Renault Group

Understanding the electric car charging cost

09 April 2020
5 min
At home or in public, the everyday costs of charging an electric car can differ and depend on the type of charging station used. Here are the key concepts for calculating the actual cost of a charge.
by Renault Group

These days, most electric vehicles are used for short everyday trips. They are charged at home at night, or at work during the day.

Despite this, people are often hesitant to buy electric vehicles out of a fear that they will not have sufficient range for long trips, such as vacations. Some worry they will not be able to charge the vehicle along the way, or that it will be too expensive. But the reality is that public charging station networks have been growing very quickly. There are currently nearly 200,000 accessible charging points in Europe. By the end of 2020, there will already be 500,000. This figure is expected to increase fourfold over the next 10 years.

The costs, however, can vary drastically. Whether at home or on the road, here is how to calculate the exact cost of charging an electric car.

The cost of charging an electric vehicle at home

With a home charging station, it is very easy to estimate the cost of charging an electric car, although the calculation does not account for the cost of buying and installing the wallbox. Simply take the total capacity of your electric car battery and multiply it by your electricity provider’s cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The cost of fully charging an electric vehicle depends on its battery capacity, in other words the amount of energy it can store.

Once you’re on the road, for the same distance, the cost of the electricity consumed is much lower than that of gas or diesel for combustion-powered engines. For example, an electric car that consumes an average of 15 kWh per 100 kilometers costs, in France*, 2.25 euros to travel 100 kilometers when charged at home. In England, where the cost of electricity is slightly higher, it costs just over 3 euros to cover the same distance.

With a standard combustion-powered city car, which consumes 5 liters per 100 kilometers, the same distance costs more than 7.50 euros — quite a difference!

The cost of charging the ZOE

As an example, charging a 52 kWh battery (such as the Z.E 50 battery in the new Renault ZOE) to full capacity costs an average of 7.50 euros, based on the cost of domestic electricity in France.

Charging through standard sockets can lead to overheating and is therefore not suggested for regular charging. For a safer, more reliable option, it is best to install a wallbox, which can charge this city car around 40 kilometers per hour.

Obviously, the best option is to charge your car during off-peak hours (if your contract allows it,) allowing you to reduce costs even further by charging your vehicle at night. It is also best to switch off other electric appliances when charging your vehicle so as to avoid overloading your power grid.

Generally speaking, the regulated tariff for electricity in France is one of the lowest in Europe. In 2019, it was set at 0.145 euros per kilowatt-hour. In England, the cost is 0.21 euros per kilowatt-hour, while in Italy it is 0.23 euros. In Germany, electricity costs much more, at 0.30 euros/kWh.

Installing a smart station to manage charging can enable you to take advantage of the lowest rates. It is not, however, always necessary: with Renault, the Z.E. Smart Charge application, available in certain countries, offers smart charging, meaning that the vehicle automatically charges when the most electricity is available through the power grid, which is to say when it is the cheapest and more energy-conscious.

Outside your home, the cost of charging depends on the type of station you plug your electric vehicle into.

Free charging stations

To support the transition to renewable energies, some electric vehicle charging stations are free to use.

This has been the case for some time in the municipal parking lots of certain municipalities, and also big-box stores and shopping malls, where you must often have your parking validated in order to enjoy free charging. However, it is important to note that, in any country, these charging stations are only available to use for free when the establishment is open, and it is becoming increasingly common to charge by the minute.

In some parking lots, not only is charging free, but so is parking. In any case, even paid parking lots offer at least a reduced price for parking electric vehicles.

The cost of charging an electric car on public roads

On public roads, the cost of charging your car must be calculated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the power of the station. Special badges and annual subscriptions can give you preferential access to various networks of charging stations at a good price. Several types of subscriptions available on today’s market allow you to plug directly into charging stations operated by different providers without any prior administrative procedures. The exact price depends on the provider.

Only in France are you billed for the time your vehicle charges. In other countries, such as Great Britain, you are billed by the kilowatt-hour or based on the power of the charging station. Charging is generally counted in 15-minute increments or through pay-as-you-go contracts. You can find anything from a 0.50 euro package for 5 minutes of charging, to 4 euros for 15 minutes, or even 5 euros for a 45-minute charge. Without a subscription, prices can be much higher. The cost also depends on the type of station. Rapid charging stations, which can charge more than 100 kilometers in 20 minutes, obviously tend to cost more. But again, some providers differentiate themselves by offering the same price no matter the power available at the station. In Germany, you are billed per kilowatt-hour and, with the Get Charge package, you must pay approximately 0.30 euros to access both regular and rapid charging stations. The price increases by around ten euros for high-power charging stations. On non-partner networks, the price can be as high as 0.90 euros per kilowatt-hour.

The cost of charging an electric car along the freeway

You will usually find rapid-charging stations on freeways, and the prices are generally much higher. A 30-minute fast charge can cost around 8 euros in Europe. It’s also important to know if the charging stations are occupied, so as not to waste time waiting for them to become available. This is exactly the kind of feature available on the MY Renault application, which works with all the brand’s electric vehicles.

Finally, although the “type 2” connector is now considered the European standard, there are still multiple types of connectors and charging modes. It is thus always a good idea to check that the charging station is compatible with your car, using tools designed to help you find a public charging station.


*Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, standardized cycle: 57% urban driving, 25% suburban driving, 18% highway driving.

Copyrights : Anthony BERNIER, adventtr, OHM, Frithjof

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