What Are the Costs of Charging an EV?

December 2, 2021

What are the Costs of Charging an EV?

Pho­to by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

EV own­ers have mul­ti­ple options for charg­ing their vehi­cles. From plug­ging your car in at home to using a direct cur­rent (DC) fast charg­er at a library, the cost of charg­ing dif­fers. Fac­tors such as charg­er lev­el (L1, L2, L3), time of use rates, and vehi­cle use can affect the price. The Nation­al Renew­able Ener­gy Lab­o­ra­to­ry (NREL) pub­lished a study ana­lyz­ing the lev­elized costs of charg­ing (LCOC) EV’s in the Unit­ed States. The authors iden­ti­fied the aver­age LCOC of charg­ing in the Unit­ed States to be $0.15 kWh for light-duty, bat­tery elec­tric vehi­cles. This study assumes a charg­ing mix of 81% res­i­den­tial, 14% work­place and/or pub­lic L2, and 5% DC fast charge, and that 84% of res­i­den­tial charg­ing uses L2 elec­tric vehi­cle sup­ply equip­ment (EVSE). Their mod­el empha­sizes res­i­den­tial charg­ing, as most EV con­sumers charge their per­son­al vehi­cles at home.

Cur­rent­ly in Col­orado, the aver­age price of elec­tric­i­ty for res­i­den­tial use is approx­i­mate­ly $0.13 kWh. If elec­tric­i­ty costs $0.13 per kWh and the vehi­cle con­sumes 33 kWh to trav­el 100 miles, the cost per mile is about $0.04. If elec­tric­i­ty costs $0.13 per kWh, charg­ing an EV with a 200-mile range (assum­ing a ful­ly deplet­ed 66 kWh bat­tery) will cost about $9 to reach a full charge. Con­sid­er­ing $3.44 per gal­lon (aver­age gaso­line price in Col­orado) a 2020 light-duty inter­nal com­bus­tion engine (ICE) vehi­cle aver­ag­ing 25.7 MPG would cost $26.77 to fill up a 200-mile range tank. You save sig­nif­i­cant­ly more mon­ey on fuel costs for an EV than an ICE vehicle!

Charg­ing costs can vary depend­ing on dif­fer­ent charg­ing behav­iors and equip­ment costs. Sup­pose you sole­ly charge your EV using a pub­lic DC fast charg­er. In that case, you will like­ly pay more per kWh and any addi­tion­al demand charges than if you used a Lev­el 1 or Lev­el 2 charg­er. In addi­tion, there are sev­er­al pric­ing struc­tures that EV con­sumers may encounter when charg­ing their vehi­cle in pub­lic. Com­mon pric­ing struc­tures can price by kWh, by ses­sion, by the length of time, or through a sub­scrip­tion. Ses­sion and time-based struc­tures are com­mon in states where non-util­i­ties are pro­hib­it­ed from sell­ing elec­tric­i­ty. While impos­ing a fee for using charg­ing infra­struc­ture is becom­ing more com­mon, more than 50% of pub­lic charg­ers are free to use. There are dif­fer­ent pric­ing mod­els across the var­i­ous charg­ing net­work providers, includ­ing pric­ing for mem­bers ver­sus non-mem­bers, user-spe­cif­ic pric­ing (i.e., free charg­ing for cer­tain vehi­cle own­ers), site host-spe­cif­ic pric­ing, and pric­ing based on the rate of charge. Despite the dif­fer­ing price struc­tures, it is almost always less expen­sive to recharge an EV than to refu­el a sim­i­lar-sized ICE vehicle.

To com­pare fuel­ing costs between indi­vid­ual vehi­cle mod­els of ICE and EVs, explore the Alter­na­tive Fuel Data Cen­ter (AFDC) Vehi­cle Cost Cal­cu­la­tor. To learn more about EV charg­ing, vis­it our All About Charg­ing page.

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