Cost of Charging an EV on a Road Trip: One Example

By Paul Gipe

While discussing a recent road trip with a Canadian colleague, the question arose of how much we were paying to charge on the road.

This isn’t a concern to me or my colleague. We both know that 90% of our charging is done at home so whatever we pay on the road is small change.

Nevertheless, this is a question newbies often raise not realizing it’s a relic of driving a gasoline-powered car that has little relevance to driving electric.

So I thought I’d run the numbers for one recent trip from Bakersfield, California to Pismo Beach where we chose to charge at a DC Fast Charge station.

We chose a ChargePoint DCFC station at the Kon Tiki Inn. This is a slow “fast charge” station delivering only 22 kW, but it was near where we needed to be so its convenience outweighed any disadvantage.

The station charges a fee to connect, a charge per kWh consumed, and a parking fee for anything over one hour. I wanted as much of a charge as possible for our return trip so I left the car plugged in for the second hour, incurring a $6.00 parking fee.

If we’d charged for only one hour we’d have used 20 kWh and paid for the connection fee, totaling about $0.50/kWh.

As it was we charged for two hours and consumed 36 kWh, for a total cost of $21.59 or about $0.61/kWh.

The cost per mile to drive electric or drive with gasoline is not only a function of the cost per kWh or cost per gallon but also the efficiency of the vehicle. I’ve given a range of efficiencies for EVs from 3 miles per kWh to 4 miles per kWh. Similarly, I’ve given a range of efficiencies for gasoline-powered vehicles from 30 mpg to 40 mpg, the latter representative of a Toyota Prius.

As you can see, the cost of driving electric when charging at a ChargePoint station on the road is roughly equivalent to that of driving on gasoline. This just illustrates, once again, that the price of charging on the road is not something to fret over.

See also What does it Cost per Mile to Drive an Electric Vehicle?