A lively debate on the pricing of the charging of electric vehicles has recently emerged in Sweden and Finland, with the previously free service becoming subject to a charge. In particular, there has been a lot of discussion on our decision to price fast charging by the minute. In minute-based pricing, the longer the vehicle is charged, the higher the cost. Therefore, it is time to discuss our choice of minute-based pricing in more detail. In Norway, the by far leading EV country per capita, fast charging has been priced per minute for a few years, and drivers of electric vehicles have widely accepted this model.
Fast charging is a service offered primarily to full electric vehicles that need additional electricity fast to reach their destination in reasonable time. A plug-in hybrid vehicle, which has both a combustion engine and an electric motor, does not necessarily need additional electricity when its batteries run out; it can use its combustion engine to reach the destination. Making the fast charging service pricing minute-based aims to ensure its maximum availability, the efficient utilisation of fast chargers and of course covering the construction and maintenance costs of the charger.
The charge state of the battery is the decisive factor in the recharging of an electric vehicle. The higher the battery charge, the slower it recharges. Fast charging is most effective at the beginning of charging. At this point, the car batteries are charged with maximum power. The maximum charging power varies by car manufacturer and model.
The longer the battery is charged, the slower it recharges and the more expensive fast charging is when using minute-based pricing. This motivates the drivers of electric vehicles to use the fast charger only for charging the absolutely necessary amount of electricity. The charging time being as short as possible makes the use of the charger more efficient as the next user gets to use it quickly.
Proposed alternatives to minute-based pricing include one-time fee or kWh-based pricing. One-time fee does not motivate the driver to free up the charger for the next user, since the user aims to get most return for the cost already paid. With kWh-based pricing, the cost of keeping the charger occupied decreases. Thus the motivation to vacate the charger decreases since the costs of using it keeps decreasing towards the end of the charging.
According to the experience we have gained from Norway, minute-based pricing is in fact the best way to ensure the availability and efficient use of fast chargers. Norwegian drivers of electric vehicles are satisfied with the minute-based pricing of fast charging. It is important to them to be able to use the charger as quickly as possible and continue their journey. In Norway, evEV-drivers spend on average 15 minutes at a fast charger.
Studies indicate that one of the biggest obstacles to electric vehicles becoming more widespread is “Range Anxiety”, or the driver worrying over whether there is enough battery charge to get to the destination, due to the short operating range. In practice, the operating range of an electric vehicle is approximately 150 kilometres. Rechargeable hybrids have enough charge for approximately 20-40 kilometres. Fast charging stations being widely available and their use being efficient will promote the spreading of electric vehicles. Based on this, one can say that smart pricing of fast charging contributes to the growth opportunities of electric vehicles.
Electricity as a traffic energy has relatively a very low cost, especially when you plan the charging of your electric vehicle in advance. The lowest priced energy for electric vehicles can be found at free public charging points in parking garages, shopping centres and along streets. When using household electricity for charging, the cost per 100 kilometres is under two euros at the current Nordic rates. The most economically feasible solution for EV-drivers is to utilize home charging and free public charging points as much as possible.