How much does it cost to charge an electric company car?

Fleet drivers are flocking to electric company cars for the BIK tax savings. Here's how much charging will cost and how to keep costs down (you can even top up for free)...

Kiall Garrett using an electric car charger

Electric company cars make an enormous amount of common sense for business drivers, because of the tiny BIK tax bill.

However, while in the past charging used to be relatively cheap so it was possible to save on running costs over a petrol or diesel car, that's become much harder. So, if you want to keep your "fuel" bill down, it pays to understand how much it will costs to charge up your electric company car – and how you can stay on top of these costs.

The good news is, it is possible to charge your electric car for free, but it usually requires patience and planning.

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According to charging app Zap-map, there are more than 3,500 free-to-use charging points across the UK, with the lion’s share (30%) in Scotland. You’ll tend to find them in supermarkets and public car parks.

Most of the free chargers in the UK are classed as fast chargers. For example, Tesco offers free 7kW or 22kW charging at more than 500 locations.

Saving on electric company car home charging

Clearly, plugging in your car (or electric van) at home is the easiest way to keep its batteries topped up. Better still, it’s also pretty cost effective.

According to energy watchdog Ofgem, the average cost per kWh of electricity is 29p, which means that a full charge of What Car?'s Family SUV of the Year for 2024 – the Kia EV6 – would cost a little more than £21. The EV6's real-world range on a full battery is around 270 miles.

Meanwhile, fuel prices have fallen from their high of a few years ago, but they’re still much higher than electricity costs. Filling the average 55-litre family car with petrol now costs around £80, while diesel remains more expensive, albeit less so. A similar fill would cost around £85.

Read more: The best home EV chargers

Finding the cheapest charging network

The public charging network is much the same as the fuel station network, in that different networks have different prices. The cost can vary even within the same network, depending on the charger’s power and whether or not you’ve signed up for a subscription. 

Overall, the average price of charging an electric car on the public charging network was 56p/kWh on a fast charger, and 80p/kWh on the rapid/ultra-rapid network.

In January, Zap-map data showed that the most expensive rapid/ultra-rapid network was Instavolt, at 85p/kWh, followed by BP Pulse, Geniepoint, MFG, Gridserve and Osprey, all on 79p/kWh. Tesla’s charged 58p/kWh. However, note that these are pay-as-you-go prices, not subscription prices.

Read more: How to charge your electric car for free

For example, BP Pulse charges £7.85 per month for a subscription, which entitles the user to 20% off charging rates. This means a charge of 63p/kWh for a rapid charger, and 69p/kWh for an ultra-rapid charger.

Meanwhile, Ionity is branching out across Europe and the UK. It charges 74p per kWh for pay-as-you-go users, but if you pay the £10.99 membership fee, you have access to a charging cost of 56p/kWh.

However, if you do arrive at a charging point for which you have no account, fear not. Charging points must now offer contactless payments by law, so while you’ll end up paying the top rate, you won’t be left stranded. On top of that, the days of needing several membership cards to cover all the networks are gone.

In addition, the Zap-map network offers Zap-pay, which allows you to pay at most charge points simply by using the Zap-map app.

Read more: Is it easy to run an electric company car?

Electric car manufacturer charging schemes

A number of car manufacturers – including Audi, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mini and Volkswagen – have launched their own charging arrangements to make the switch to electric driving easier for buyers.

Some charge a monthly fee while others are free, but they all give access to multiple charging networks using the same app.

Claiming back the cost of charging

If you’re a company car driver, the Government has set the official reimbursement rates for electric company cars used on work business at 9p per mile.

However, that’s a level almost no EV can match: if you use a fast charger, an EV will cost an average of 17p per mile to run, and 24ppm if you use rapid/ultra-rapid charging. Ouch.

The good news is that some businesses have put their own reimbursement rates in place to ensure their drivers aren’t out of pocket following a switch to an electric fleet car. You might also be lucky enough to have chargers at work you can use for free.

Read more: How to claim for charging your electric company car

Why efficiency trumps cost to charge

As the world was making the switch to electric cars, everyone was focused on a car’s range. With far fewer charge points around than there are now, the term “range anxiety” was commonplace.

However, as the variety of vehicles available and number of charge points increase, range anxiety will become a thing of the past, and the efficiency of an EV will become the talking point.

So what is efficiency? It's how far a car can travel on each kWh of energy, and is, in essence, the same as how far a car can travel on a litre of petrol or diesel. To expand, if you have two cars with a 250-mile range, the one with the smaller battery is the more efficient of the two, and will cost you less to charge up each time.

In time, the miles-per-kWh figure will assume the same importance as miles per gallon (mpg) does for petrol or diesel-powered cars.

Read more: The best electric company cars in the UK

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