Electric car drivers will soon have to pay to use ‘slow’ chargers

ESB introducing charges ‘in coming weeks’ but insists it will pass on VAT reduction

The ESB is to introduce charges for its standard or “slow” car charging network “within weeks”, bringing to an end a decade of free service for owners of electric vehicles.

Charges for the utility’s network of about 75 rapid or “fast” chargers were introduced last November, but the slower chargers are far more prevalent with about 1,000 across the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The slow chargers are mainly placed at roadsides in cities, towns and villages and offer charging at up to 22kW per hour. It typically takes about six hours to fully charge at a slow charger but the speed also depends on the equipment in the car.

The fast charging network offers 50kW and is generally located along national routes. These chargers can typically charge vehicles up to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.


ESB eCars is working on a new, faster network offering charging at 150kW which is due to come on stream later this year.

In an email to registered users in recent days ESB eCars said pay for use would be extended to the “standard”, otherwise known as slow, chargers “in the coming weeks”.

However, ESB eCars said it would pass on a VAT reduction recently agreed with the Revenue Commissioners to its customers in the Republic.

The reduction is from 23 per cent to 13.5 per cent. Beginning this month, all transactions will have the lower VAT rate applied so the cost of charging for customers who cannot reclaim VAT will reduce.

For example, the membership rate for fast charging will reduce from 29c to 26.8c while the pay-as-you-go rate will be 30.5c reduced from 33c.

A membership subscription, overstay fee – for remaining at a charge point after your vehicle is fully charged – and the cost to purchase an ESB charge point access card, have also been reduced in line with the change in VAT rate.

Separately, eCars will recalculate VAT charged on all transactions since the introduction of fees last November, using the reduced rate. Credits will be applied to all customer accounts for any difference in VAT rates.

Charging remains free at both fast and slow chargers in Northern Ireland, which are operated by the ESB under eCars Northern Ireland branding.

EasyGo, a private commercial network, have a complement of more than 400 charging machines in the Republic, both fast and slow.

In addition, some supermarket chains including Lidl and Tesco have installed chargers without cost for customers.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist