Electric car owners face ‘postcode lottery’ for cost of charging

Some councils offer free charging but others charge up to £4 per kilowatt hour.

An electric car being charged
An electric car being charged

Electric car owners face a “postcode lottery” when it comes to the cost of using council-owned charging points, according to new research.

Figures obtained by British Gas show 21 councils across England and Wales allow motorists to top up their batteries for free.

But drivers in other areas are charged up to £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

To charge a typical electric vehicle (EV) from flat to full at that rate would cost £240, the analysis found.

It would cost around £3.90 to fully charge the same car at home using a dedicated off-peak EV tariff.

EV drivers without a driveway or off-street parking often rely on public charging points.

Drivers in the South generally have access to more devices but have to pay more to use them, the research found.

The average cost per kWh at the cheapest charging points across East Anglia, London, the South East and the South West is 32p, compared with 25p in the Midlands, the North East, the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales.

The figures were obtained following Freedom of Information requests to more than 400 councils.

Those offering free charging include Bridgend, Leeds and Woking.

The most expensive fees are charged by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on the south coast, and Cotswold District Council, Gloucestershire, at £4 per kWh.

The figures do not take into account the speed of the charging points.

  1. Arun
  2. Bracknell Forest
  3. Bradford
  4. Bridgend County Borough Council
  5. Crawley
  6. Daventry
  7. East Riding of Yorkshire
  8. Hambleton
  9. Lancaster
  10. Leeds
  11. Lichfield
  12. Lincoln
  13. Oadby and Wigston
  14. Southampton
  15. Staffordshire
  16. Stevenage
  17. Stockport
  18. Swindow
  19. Tunbridge Wells
  20. Warrington
  21. Woking

British Gas issued a warning over the “postcode lottery” of fees after commissioning a survey of 2,000 motorists, which indicated one in three are nervous about switching to EVs due to charging costs.

The energy firm’s head of EV enablement, Lucy Simpson, said: “The latest figures released today demonstrate the need for all UK councils to play their part in supporting the transition to electric vehicles.

“Currently, we have 21 progressive councils that have decided to support local EV adoption, so we would expect a greater uptake of EVs to come through in these areas than in councils where it is expensive to charge.

“If charging doesn’t become more accessible in these areas, we could see a slower rate of adoption.

“Whilst the Government does offer certain financial incentives at the point of purchase, charging costs are still a barrier to electric vehicle adoption.”

She added: “It’s unfair that those who don’t live in areas with either free or low-cost charging are being discriminated against based on their address.

“If this continues, we risk leaving a huge number of drivers behind in the transition to electric cars.”

– The 21 councils which offer free EV charging are:

1. Arun

2. Bracknell Forest

3. Bradford

4. Bridgend County Borough Council

5. Crawley

6. Daventry

7. East Riding of Yorkshire

8. Hambleton

9. Lancaster

10. Leeds

11. Lichfield

12. Lincoln

13. Oadby and Wigston

14. Southampton

15. Staffordshire

16. Stevenage

17. Stockport

18. Swindon

19. Tunbridge Wells

20. Warrington

21. Woking

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