What Does DC Fast Charging an EV Cost? (v2) (EVGo, Electrify America, ChargePoint)
By far and away my most popular story since I started on this channel was about the cost of charging my EV between the fast charging competitors. Since I published that over 10 months ago, several things have changed, including how EVGo is billing, now in compliance with California regulation banning a per-minute billing. And I’ve got a lot more data about charging, made the format a bit better, and added another network (ChargePoint).
So what does it cost to charge (my) EV? And which of the competing EV charging networks is the best? For this article, I want to focus on fast charging. This is the ultimate in convenience for an EV driver (especially if you can’t charge your car at home).
EV Charging Landscape
Before we get into the nerdy bits, a high level plea/recap/request:
- EV adoption is expanding exponentially. The infrastructure for charging has to also (and is currently way behind). In the last three months, charging has gone from “I’ll just head to that charger and it will be fine” to finding many charging stations full (or broken). Look at the number of chargers available at the grocery store (or whatever spot) vs parking spaces and compare that to the number of EVs in the parking lot.
- Charging needs to be convenient for all people. This means increased access in neighborhoods, retail locations, leisure locations, rest stops, and recreational destinations. And also increased availability on frequent travel corridors.
- EVs (and other electrification efforts) are going to drive increased electricity usage. It is vital that we expand the use of low-cost renewables, like solar and wind, on the grid. Where I am in California, electricity prices keep going up (already more expensive than 75% of the country) and threaten the affordability of going electric.
- Lots of enthusiasm for electric vehicles. Since my original post, several EV charging companies have gone public via a SPAC and the US infrastructure bill puts most of its clean energy investment into EV charging. And with more jurisdictions declaring a deadline to end the use of fossil fuel vehciles, EVs are a hot topic! So let’s work this out…
EV Charging Company Business Models Differ
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of how much it costs to charge and how the prices vary across three major EV charging networks, keep in mind that it is hard to compare apples and apples due to business model differences. These include options for drivers to pay membership fees to get lower rates, keep a prepaid balance vs pas-as-you-go, and differing prices at different chargers in the same network. Some high level differences:
- EVGo: Has changed their billing model in California since I complained about it in my last post. Now they charge for the energy consumed (yay!). However, still not that simple, since the price of energy varies during the day (sort of reflecting the Time Of User energy rate times utilities use). There are also per session fees, and all of this varies depending on whether or not you use the app, pay a monthly fee, or just walk up and swipe your credit card (the most expensive option). Even so, it is a solid improvement.
- Electrify America (EA): Offers a flat price for energy, no matter the time of day. While I have seen a couple different rates at different chargers, this is by far the simplest model. Offers a monthly fee ($4) option for lower rates and that even becomes a credit for charging. Haven’t seen any session fees, but there may be fees for staying plugged in after charging is done.
- ChargePoint: Emerged to give parking lot owners a business model for charging, but as a result, there is no standard pricing. Pricing at ChargePoint charging stations can be incredibly confusing. This is because any given charger can (but may not) have fees based on (1) parking — flat or time-based, (2) a per session charge, and (3) the cost of energy (which may vary during the day). Basically I look at the cost of energy and assume it will be 25% more than that at least.
What Does It Cost to Charge An EV?
I’ve now got a little over one year of charging data, totaling 3MWh of energy used by my EV and about 50 full cycles of the battery. Almost exactly half (1418kwh) of the energy used to charge my EV over the year came from these three charging networks, representing a spend of $547. By the way, if this data is useful for you, you can find it here and do your own analysis (please let me know if you do)!
To compare the costs, I prefer to look at two numbers:
- What is the cost per kWh? I think this is useful when compared to your cost of energy at home. It can give you a sense of the premium you pay for the convenience of fast charging.
- What would the cost be to fill up the “tank” on the car? This is what the cost would be for filling the battery completely (eg cost per kWh * 60, for my car).
And the DC Fast Charging winner is…
Electrify America is by far the cheapest (note, I do pay the $4/mo membership fee to get lower rates and do at least that much charging each month so the credit gets used up). I was shocked that EVGo average cost came out 50+% higher! I went back and reran the numbers taking out the charging sessions charging by the minute (listed as EVGO-1 in the spreadsheet), thinking that would make it better but the numbers got even worse! EVGo averaged $0.54/kwh and a whopping $32 for a full charge…75% higher than EA! I was pleasantly surprised as well as how close ChargePoint was to Electrify America, given that I always thought it would end up much more expensive with all the complicated fee structures!
Worth mentioning too is that EA also had the fastest median charge rates (38kW), with ChargePoint (34kW) just eaking out EVGO (33kW). This means on average, I’m spending less time at an EA charger for the same amount of energy.
Well, thank you all for being interested in my EV charging experience enough to motivate me to organize and crunch all this data! It’s been an eye-opening experience. Got questions? Feedback? Ideas for what else would be great to learn about in EV and electrification? Please drop a comment!