Electric car: will charging prices explode in France?

After fuel, it is the turn of electricity prices to focus concerns for the coming winter. Electric cars may be affected, but what do we really risk in France?

Faced with rising fuel prices, the electric car has been presented by some politicians as a more economical solution. A few months later, the price of a barrel stabilizes, but the price of electricity looks set to be explosive for the winter months. A reversal of the situation that distorts the calculations, but do we really need to worry about it now?

Above all, it is a mistake to reduce the electric car to its only economic interest in relation to the cost of recharging. The electric car has many more arguments to seduce motorists, no offense to some. Nevertheless, faced with a tense situation where all prices are rising, this is news that electric car buyers would have done well without.

€2 for 100 kilometers? The end of a statement

A manufacturer such as Nissan for its Leaf has long used this argument about the cost of recharging in its advertisements. The brand then announced a price of €2/100 km, a calculation based on charging the vehicle at home during the off-season.

The same calculation could apply to several electric cars, at least all those that offer a fairly reasonable electricity consumption. Electric SUVs already did not offer the same advantage. Many manufacturers still used the cost of charging at home as an argument to convince customers that the higher investment in an electric vehicle would pay off quickly because charging was cheaper than refueling.

Inflation and tensions on energy prices will therefore inevitably change the situation, but a really high and lasting increase is needed before the electric car loses its advantage compared to the internal combustion engine.

A situation in France that is difficult to compare with other countries

If we look across the channel, the increase in energy costs has assumed such proportions that some studies believe that charging an electric vehicle at home will almost double after the increase planned for the 1st.eh October. A long trip that relies on public terminals may even cost more in electric than its equivalent with a gasoline model.

It is currently too early to know what increases in the price of electricity France will face. The operation of electricity supply prices (thanks to its regulated tariff) and the implications of the tariff screen are very different to a market like the UK. If certain figures announced, such as the record of €1,000/MWH for wholesale purchases, may cause concern, our electricity will not be x10, as we can read on certain shares on social networks. Volatility and speculation in electricity prices is significant, but the situation may also tend to stabilize, as is the case with fuel prices.

It must also be remembered that France is one of the countries that offers a fairly low price per kWh, compared to some of our neighbors such as Belgium or Germany. Comparing France with other European countries is not always relevant.

A legitimate concern about the prices of public charging stations

While private individuals who generally benefit from offers indexed to the regulated rate should not fear seeing their charging budget suddenly explode, drivers who rely on the public network of terminals, on the other hand, must expect to see increases in charging prices.

Renault Megane E-Tech Optimal charging in charging // Source: Raphaelle Baut for Numerama

Allego is the first operator to communicate a new increase in its charging prices on September 1, 2022, after a first increase last spring. This sets its charge rates as follows:

  • Regular charging (AC 22kW): 0.50 EUR/kWh instead of 0.40 EUR/kWh
  • Fast charging (50kW): 0.69 EUR/kWh instead of 0.55 EUR/kWh
  • Ultra-fast charging (>50kW): 0.79 EUR/kWh instead of 0.65 EUR/kWh

Tesla continuously adjusts its prices according to the current electricity price in the country. It is very likely that the other major charging operators, such as Ionity or Fastned, will be in the same situation in the coming months.

Some charging networks are indexed to the market prices of electricity. They are not based on housing prices for electricity. They may face significant fee increases even before winter due to price volatility.

It is therefore long journeys by electric car, as well as charging in business areas, that suffer first from the increase in the price of electricity. However, it is already at these fast terminals that prices are already high (between 0.50 and 0.79 €/kWh), which may put an unexpected brake on the enthusiasm for electric cars in recent months.

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