Conor Hulbert and Paul Kirkpatrick explore the disproportionate impact that price rises in public charging may have on those who can least afford it
Automotive services company RAC has released figures which demonstrate that over the last four months, electric vehicle (EV) owners in the UK have been met with a 42% increase in the cost of using public rapid charging points. The price increase has been attributed to the soaring cost of wholesale electricity and gas. According to the RAC, that means a driver exclusively using a rapid or ultra-rapid charger on the public network will now pay around £0.18 (US$0.21) per mile for electricity. That compares to £0.19 per mile for a gasoline car and £0.21 for a diesel.
Consumer demand and pricing
Whilst running an EV remains cheaper than operating a gasoline or diesel car, rising energy costs are contributing to some sections of society not making the switch to electric, according to a recent AA survey. Substantial increases in the cost of public charging could potentially create a greater barrier to consumer take-up of EVs. A drop in consumer demand could have a direct impact on the pricing of EVs, and on the bottom line of manufacturers, at a time when they are necessarily investing huge sums into the development of new product lines and technologies which will support the transition to electric.
It is essential that public confidence and take-up of EVs is not negatively impacted by the cost or availability of the public charging infrastructure
Manufacturers and other stakeholders can take comfort in the fact that running an EV currently remains cheaper than running a gasoline or diesel vehicle—particularly for EV owners who predominately charge their vehicles at home, where the charging cost is substantially lower. Nevertheless, against the backdrop of a ban on gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030, it is essential that public confidence and take-up of EVs is not negatively impacted by the cost or availability of the public charging infrastructure.
In order to combat consumer concerns at this vital stage, stakeholders must continue to monitor the energy market and its impact on the transition to electrification. The provision of accurate and up-to-date information about the cost of transitioning to electric will be key to addressing consumer fears, and will allow them to continue to make informed purchasing decisions.
More widely, the RAC’s figures highlight the risk of a social divide in the ability to switch to EVs. Whilst the increasing cost of wholesale energy prices has also had a direct impact on the cost of domestic energy, it remains the case that charging an EV at home is significantly cheaper than relying on the public charging network. EV drivers who are unable to charge at home (e.g. those who do not have driveways), already pay a significant premium to run their vehicles. If the cost of public charging continues to increase, then it may be that those drivers are practically excluded from the EV market altogether.
The rising cost of public charging therefore highlights the reliance of sections of society on the public charging infrastructure, as well as the disproportionate impact that price rises in public charging may have on those who can least afford it.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Conor Hulbert is an Associate and Paul Kirkpatrick a Partner at Brown Jacobson
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