Again, this is dependent on your car and the way you use it, because there are numerous options when it comes to public charging stations. For instance, if you only need charge when out and about infrequently, then a pay-as-you-go method is possible, costing between 20p and 70p per kWh, depending on whether you’re using a fast or rapid charger, the latter costing more to use. Recent arrival Instavolt works on this principle, requiring nothing more than contactless payment as when you need to top up, Others providers will charge an hourly rate (effectively a parking charge) plus a kWh charge for electricity consumed.
If you travel further afield more frequently, then providers such as BP Pulse offer a subscription service with a monthly fee of just under £8, which gives you discounted rates on many of its 8,000 chargers, plus free access to a handful of AC units. You’ll need an RFID card or smartphone app to access them, but once connected you can charge at 50kW 23p per kWh and 27p per kWh for the 150kW chargers.
It’s also possible to use many of the chargers on a pay-as-you go basis with a contactless bank card, with a rate of 26p per kWh for AC chargers, or 35p and 42p per kWh for its 50kW and 150kW chargers respectively.
Rival oil company Shell has its Recharge network which has been rolling out 50kW and 150kW rapid chargers at its filling stations across the UK. These can be used on a contactless pay-as-you-go basis on a flat rate of 45p per kWh for it 50kWh Rapid chargers and 49p per kWh for its 150kW Ultra Rapid chargers, although it’s worth noting there’s a 35p transaction charge each time you plug-in. This price remains unchanged if you sign up to the Shell Recharge account, which bills you monthly for your use but also allows you to use over 250,000 chargers from over 250 providers across Europe.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some hotels and shopping centres offer free charging to customers. The widespread use of smartphone apps for all providers makes it easy to see where the charging points are, how much they cost to use and and whether they’re free, so you can easily tap into a provider that suits your needs and budget.
Many manufacturers also offer simplified charging by giving access to numerous providers under their own charging scheme. For instance, Audi’s E-tron Charging Service account gives access to nearly 20 different energy firms, while all new E-trons come with a voucher that’ll cover the first 1000 miles worth of charges for free.