Here’s What Calculating The Cost of EV Charging Rates Is So Complicated

electric vehicle charding

There's no shortage of complications surrounding electric vehicles (EVs). From range reliability to pricing options and charging infrastructure, none of these issues are simple, nor do they have easy solutions yet.

Another complicated issue involving EV ownership is calculating charging rates.

But what makes attaching a fixed price to charging a battery so tricky and different from filing a car up with gas?

The Cost of a Kilowatt-Hour.

A kilowatt-hour measures how much electricity someone uses in one hour. It's very straightforward, much like the definition of a kilowatt, which equals 1,000 watts of electricity.

The average U.S. household currently spends around 16 cents per kilowatt-hour. One kilowatt-hour gives the majority of EVs approximately two to three miles of driving range.

Though EV owners can often charge for cheaper than the previously mentioned 16 cents per kilowatt-hour if they charge at night, the rates are different from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. when electricity usage is typically lower.

However, the variables become harder to decipher when the rubber meets the road because road trip pricing is not straightforward. For example, different charging networks will have different rates and pricing options depending on the time of day or if a driver pays for a membership. Charging networks can also come with session connection fees. Network memberships usually come with a monthly fee in exchange for cheaper kilowatt-hours.

EV Comparisons.  

Overall, on a 100-mile trip using an EV like the 2023 Chevy Bolt, if drivers were charging from home before hitting the road, they experienced a more cost-effective and fuel-efficient trip than drivers charging on the road or taking a similar trip in a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Also, for consumers looking for an inexpensive EV, the Chevy Bolt is a great option; it's roughly $30,000 for the base model. Unfortunately, there will not be a 2024 model, but the older models remain a great, affordable option.

However, during a road trip through Califonia's Death Valley, the Chevy Bolt cost 20 percent more to charge than the price of fueling a similarly sized gasoline vehicle. So for an EV like the Chevy Bolt, home charing is the cheapest option; however, charing on the road is less cost-effective than driving a gas vehicle.

Using the best-selling EV in North America, the Tesla Model Y, a clear pattern for the most cost-effective way to charge EVs emerged.

While Teslas cost more than the Chevy Bolt, it's vital to know that about half of the EVs currently being driven in the U.S. are Teslas. So, they are the most relevant comparison point someone can use for calculating average EV charging rates in America.

Home charging was triumphant once again. When comparing the cost of fueling a Long Range Tesla Model Y with a gasoline vehicle of comparable size, the Model Y could get 100 miles worth of fuel range for around $10 cheaper than the typical SUV.

But as with the previously mentioned Chevy Bolt, the price of charging on the road is more expensive and harder to predict. The pricing of Tesla's charging networks differs by state and time of day, with nighttime charging universally being the cheapest. Depending on the station's charging power and the above mentioned variables, they can range from approximately $10 to $20 for 100 miles of driving range.

In Conclusion. 

EV charging rates are cheaper and simpler to calculate when charging at home during nighttime; however, the price for charging on the road becomes difficult to calculate because of the numerous factors involved.

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Freelance writer

  • Expertise: automotive news, dramatic writing & cinema.  
  • Education: San Francisco State University, B.A. Cinema Production (2013), San Francisco State University, M.F.A. Creative Writing (2021). 
  • Feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for professional play development at Z Space in San Francisco.
  • Over 1,000 automotive news articles have been published on the web.      

Jarret Hendrickson is a writer. He got his start when he was accepted into San Francisco State University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in 2018. While earning his degree, his short plays, The Captain (2019) & Fight Night (2020), were performed at San Francisco State University's annual Fringe Festival. His feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for the 2020 Greenhouse Professional Play Development Workshop at Z Space in San Francisco. While studying dramatic writing and screenwriting, he concluded that Se7en is the perfect modern screenplay. He received his MFA in the fall of 2021. In addition to his interest in writing and movies, Jarret also has a long-standing interest in automotive news, which dates back to his picking up a copy of MotorTrend when he was ten. His interest in all things automotive really blossomed at age 15 when he test-drove the 1994 Volvo SE that would accompany him for the next decade. His ongoing interest in cars helped him secure his first freelance writing job when he was hired to cover automotive news for axeladdict.com, where over 1,000 of his articles were published. You can find him on X (the social media platform formally known as Twitter) @jarrethsfpa and on Linkedin. Jarret currently covers the daily ebb and flow of the automotive industry for Wealth of Geeks.