BERLIN – Rising electricity prices are driving up the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe, which in some cases are more expensive than gasoline-powered models, a change that could jeopardize the continent’s electric transition.
Electricity prices have skyrocketed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in some cases removing the cost advantage electric vehicles enjoy. In some cases, the cost difference between driving both types of cars for 100 miles has become negligible. In others, EVs are more expensive to fuel than equivalent gasoline cars.
The hike in electricity prices, which economists expect to last for years, removes a powerful incentive for consumers considering switching to EVs, which used to be much cheaper to run than combustion engines.
The change, which comes as some governments are removing subsidies for EV buyers, could slow EV sales, jeopardize the region’s greenhouse gas emissions targets and make European cars more affordable for EV makers than their electric counterparts. The high costs of transition can make it difficult to recoup.
In Germany, Tesla has raised prices for Superchargers several times this year, most recently before coming down slightly to 0.71 euros in September, Tesla owners report on industry forums. There is no public source that allows you to track Tesla Supercharger prices.
At that price, drivers of a Tesla Model 3, the most efficient all-electric vehicle according to EPA fuel guidance in the mid-size vehicle category, would pay €18.46 at a gas station. Tesla Supercharger in Europe for enough charge to drive 100 miles.
By comparison, drivers in Germany would pay €18.31 for gas to drive the same distance in an EPA-rated equivalent combustion engine model 4-door Honda Civic.
Tesla did not comment on the matter.
The change is particularly notable in Germany, Europe’s biggest car market, where household electricity costs averaged 0.43 euros per kWh in December. This puts it well ahead of France, where consumers paid €0.21 per kWh in the first half of the year, but behind Denmark, where a kWh cost €0.46, according to the German statistics office.
The cost of electricity isn’t the only factor that can make an EV cheaper or more expensive than a gas-powered car. The cost of the car, including any subsidies, the cost of insurance and the cost of maintenance all affect the cost equation over the life of the vehicle.
Maria Bengtsson, a partner at Ernst & Young who is responsible for the firm’s electric vehicle business in the UK, says studies of the total cost of owning an electric vehicle show that electricity prices are too high With electric vehicles will take longer. Be more economical than traditional ones.
“Before the energy crisis, the turning point was between 2023 and 2024. But if you start with a tariff of US$0.55, the turning point is 2026,” he explains.
Now, if the cost of running an EV rises again, the tipping point will be pushed back even further.
At the moment, in any case, there are no signs that the increase in charging costs for electric cars has affected their sales. Total sales of all-electric cars totaled 259,449 vehicles in the three months to the end of September, up 11% from the previous quarter and 22% from the previous year, according to the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers. In the third quarter, all electric cars accounted for 11.9% of total new vehicle sales in the EU.
But at the moment there is no relief for electric vehicle users. According to the German Federal Statistics Office, electricity prices in Germany have risen by a third from 0.33 euros per kWh in the first half of this year, and some power companies have announced that prices will exceed 0.50 euros per kWh in January. .
The German government’s independent group of economic experts has forecast that these prices are likely to decline in the medium term but will not return to pre-crisis levels, meaning that the highest costs for EV owners are here to stay .
Cologne’s municipal utility Rheinergi announced in November that it would raise its prices to 0.55 euros per kWh in January. In October, EnBW, a regional electricity company based in Stuttgart, raised the price of electricity per kilowatt hour to 0.37 euros, a 37% increase from the previous month.
The most expensive way to charge an EV in Europe is through one of the fast charging networks. Carriers like Tesla, Allego and Ionity have built charging stations on major highways where EV owners can arrive, plug in and charge their batteries in less than 15 minutes.
Fuel consumption estimates calculated by the EPA and current gasoline and charging prices in Europe show that some conventional vehicles are now cheaper to refuel with petrol than equivalent electric models that use fast-charging stations.
In the subcompact segment of the EPA’s 2023 fuel economy guide, the Mini Cooper hardtop was the most efficient model among EVs and gasoline cars.
Traveling 160km costs the Mini EV owner €26.35 on the Allego fast-charging network, which charges €0.85 per kWh. For a conventional Mini, for its part, it costs 20.35 euros to pump enough fuel to make the same journey.
MINI and its owner Bayerische Motoren Werke AG did not comment on the matter.
In the small two-door SUV category, the gasoline-powered Nissan Rogue outperforms the Hyundai Kona Electric with a cost difference of €19.97 to €22.95. The standard four-wheel drive Subaru Ascent SUV costs 100 miles less than a Tesla Model X.
If an EV owner only charges their vehicle at home, they typically pay less to drive than conventional car users, although the difference has narrowed significantly.
About 80% of EV charging is done at home or work, analysts say, so if the EV is only used near home, it’s often the cheapest option. But once the vehicle is used for long road trips, drivers are more likely to use fast-charging stations, as other options would take too long to charge the battery.
Charging a Tesla with 120 volts of alternating current—the current that comes from a typical socket in the United States—would take days. According to the German Federation of the Electronics Industry ZVEI, the standard in Europe is 230 V. European chargers installed on street corners, supermarkets, workplaces and home garages can charge a flat Tesla battery overnight.
Supercharger networks run on direct current, require at least 480 volts of electricity, and can charge up to 200 miles of range in 15 minutes.