Electricity on the rise: electric cars lose one of their advantages

Tesla yesterday sent an email to all its customers to warn them of an increase in the charging price on its Superchargers. This official communication is the first that I am aware of, as prices have increased several times in recent years and the manufacturer has shown greater opacity so far. But it has to be said that the tariff which is now €0.67 per kWh is a symbolic limit: driving in electric is now generally more expensive than in thermal on long journeys.

The price of the Brest supercharger: €0.67/kWh, as in the whole of France.

The situation has changed a lot since last year when I wrote my series about my experience with Tesla’s Model 3. In the part dedicated to charging, I noticed an average price of around 40 cents per kWh at Tesla stations, which gave our car a cost of around €6.6 per 100 km. At the same time, I estimated the thermal cost to be around €11 per 100km, based on a very generous consumption of 6.5l/100km and a price of €1.7/l.

Almost a year later, this simulation based on a real trip between Quimper and Toulouse gives very different results. The price of tram is now around €10.3 per 100km and with state aid, petrol is actually cheaper, around €1.5/l at my house. This gives a price per 100 km just under €10, without taking into account station prices in motorway service areas.

That doesn’t change the observation that driving in electric vehicles is now more expensive on long journeys. Don’t forget that my car is a particularly efficient and economical sedan on the highway, which is not the case for all models, with a price per kilometer that can explode. Tesla isn’t the only one raising its prices, it’s a general move and its competitors have even raised their prices even further. This is the case with Allego, for example, which plans to increase the price of its fast terminals to €0.98 per kWh from October 7th!

Our Model 3 being charged at the Bègles supercharger near Bordeaux (image Mac generation).

This rise in the prices of fast charging stations is linked to that of electricity, which reached record levels a few months ago and is not expected to improve this winter. If individuals can be protected, as is particularly the case in France, companies must pay market prices and terminal operators pass them on to the price of electricity sold to their customers. This is all the more important as this sector is still far from being profitable, multiple players are barely emerging and must invest large sums to create their terminal networks.

Note in passing that Ionity has yet to announce an increase to date and with its public price of €0.69 per kWh, it is now at the heart of the market. No increases are planned at the moment, Ionity told us, but who knows what’s to come if electricity prices remain so high. Fastned, a competitor that has recently started to establish itself in France, has increased its prices throughout Europe (€0.83 per kWh), except for our country at the moment (we continue with the old price, €0.59 per kWh ), but we can also imagine that it will come very quickly.

The electric car thus loses a historic advantage over the combustion engine. The time of free and unlimited supercharging at Tesla is over and we must not count on its return. Prices are expected to return to previous tariffs if electricity prices drop, but that will take some time anyway. This is a bad time at a time when we are promoting electric mobility, although we must not lose sight of the fact that one of the advantages of electric vehicles is charging at home.

Whenever possible, charging at home remains a major advantage of electric vehicles (image Mac generation).

If you have an affordable outlet at home, you will pay no more than the standard electricity tariff, which is currently around €0.17 per kWh in France. For daily use, our cost for 100 km is therefore around €3.5, which is quite ample, which is still much lower than the thermal one. With the double advantage of being able to charge every day at home and being able to benefit from even lower rates by switching to off-peak rates. But even so, rates are expected to rise next year and the question of power outages that could arise this winter remains.

What will slow down electric car sales in the coming months? As all manufacturers’ order books are still quite full, we shouldn’t see any short-term impact. Also, it all likely depends on the future price of electricity and any cuts this winter that could leave a deep imprint on people’s minds. In addition, RTE, responsible for the electricity grid, evokes the possibility of turning off public charging stations on the most tense days. It would be voluntary on the part of its managers and there would be the option of forcing the load in case of an emergency.

However, it would be a blow to electromobility if that happened. Individuals are encouraged this winter to only charge their cars overnight, which most models on the market can do through scheduled charging.

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