How Much Does it Cost to Charge an Electric Car?

Electric Vehicles Charging

How much it costs to charge an electric car is a question many prospective car buyers have. You probably know how much it costs to fill your tank and how many miles you can drive on a gallon. On the other hand, when it comes to an electric car, you probably have no idea how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle; or how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. Understanding what it costs to charge an electric car is easy. Also, like each gas model’s miles per gallon, the same applies to electric vehicles. However, there are a few things you need to know and a little bit of math. We can cover the basics of charging below.

Battery Capacity

One of the first things you need to understand is the battery capacity. Battery capacity is the electric equivalent of the size of a gas tank. The larger the battery capacity, the more kilowatts you can store. Larger battery capacities typically lead to more distance you can cover. Another critical point is that electric car batteries are the most expensive car component. So keep in mind that range comes at a premium with electric cars.

Driving Range

Another consideration is the distance you can travel on a fully charged electric battery. Think of driving range as to how far you could drive on a single tank of gas. Like a gas car, the answer depends on how big of a gas tank you have and how fuel-efficient your vehicle is. The larger the electric battery is, the more electricity you have, but the heavy the car becomes, offsetting some of your distance gains. Also, each electric car model has a specific efficiency. For example, our 2018 Tesla Model X can drive 237 miles on a full charge of its 75-kilowatt battery. A new 2021 Audi e-Tron goes 222 miles on a 95-kilowatt battery. I am pointing out that a larger battery capacity does not mean a longer distance, as we can see with the e-Tron versus Model X example.

Miles Per Kilowatt

Like you are used to the idea of miles per gallon of gas, I thought there should be an electric car equivalent. To help, I am introducing the concept of miles per kilowatts for electric cars. The idea is that your electric vehicle will travel a certain amount of miles, spending one kilowatt of electricity. Of course, each electric car model’s kilowatt per mile will differ as they will have their efficiency based on their configuration. Take, for example, a 2021 Tesla Model S long Range with a range of 412 on a 100 Kilowatt battery. Dividing the range (412) by the battery capacity of 100 tells us the Model S can travel around four miles per kilowatt of electricity.

Price Per Kilowatt of Electricity

Think of electricity prices per kilowatt as similar to gas per gallon. Understanding your state utility charges will help you determine what it will cost to fill up your battery. Say, in California, a kilowatt of electricity is 22 cents. Filling up a 100-kilowatt battery would cost 22 dollars. Now keep in mind that electricity pricing will vary based on what state you are in and when you buy electricity. Buying electricity late at night tends to be cheaper. Also, some utility has time-of-use programs charging lower rates at specific times. You can create electricity if you own solar panels, which is the ideal option.

Electric Drive Cost to Own estimate
Electric Driver Cost to Own Estimate | Electric Driver image

Weather Impacts on Driving Range

The temperature can adversely impact how many miles you can travel on a kilowatt of electricity. With snow and hot temperates of 95 degrees or greater, you can see a decrease in the overall distance your electric car can travel on a single charge. The decline varies based on temperate, weight, and your specific electric vehicle model. AAA states they have seen driving range reductions of up to 40%. However, in my experience of driving in snow and 100-degree heat, I have only seen a 20% reduction in driving range.

Most of your Charging Happens Overnight at Home

Most of your driving will typically take place around 50 miles a day. Since most electric batteries are now edging over 200 miles and on a single charge, people charge at home overnight. Charging at home saves you money and time as all your driving is seamless, with no stops at a gas station or charging bay to refuel. However, some upfront costs are associated with setting up a home electric car charger. First, you will need to purchase a charging station that is compatible with your car. It would help to get a good electric car charger for about $500 to $1,000 for the hardware. You will also need an electrician to set up the home charger for around $400 to $1,200. Check with your electric utility provider, as they may offer incentives or rebates to set up an electric car charger.

Using a Commercial Electric Vehicle Charger Costs More

Most of your charging for your electric car will occur at home. However, a commercial charging station will be an option if you take a long trip or forget to charge overnight at home. Commercial charging stations will charge you more than your home rates, but the charging station could charge your electric car much faster.

Electrify America EV charger
Electrify America EV charger | Image courtesy of Electrify America

 For example, Electrify America, a commercial vendor in California, charges anywhere from $.15 to

 $.48 per kilowatt-hour to charge your electric vehicle based on location. While the commercial rates can be almost twice the cost of charging at home, electricity will be cheaper than gas.

Electric Driver Is Your Resource for Charging Costs

We hope you have a better understanding of how much it costs to charge an electric car. You can calculate the charging costs by multiplying the driving range of an electric vehicle by the price per kilowatt. Alternatively, you can visit Electric Driver, where we have compiled all the electric charging and related information on our site based on the specific electric car model and location.


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