Electric mobility is subject to an electricity price shock

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This can get very expensive
Electric mobility is subject to an electricity price shock

For a long time, owners of electric vehicles have enjoyed complete comfort throughout their lives. Also due to lower energy costs. But that’s over for many now. There’s still potential to keep energy costs down with the Stromer—but not for everyone.

For a long time, switching to an electric car was considered profitable in terms of energy costs. The home wall box saved a kilowatt-hour for less than 30 cents, which is why some economy models cost much less than five euros per 100 kilometres. Also because of the sharp increase in fuel prices in the meantime, switching from dirty combustion engines to clean electric cars was a worthwhile investment. But since last year, the former financial advantage has turned into its opposite in many cases. The energy costs of clean e-mobility have exploded, especially for lantern parking workers. Even long-distance drivers would be better off today if they drove on diesel instead of electric.

There is still potential to keep energy costs down with the use of the e-car. But not all of them can lift. For many, it is feared that the e-car will thus become increasingly unattractive from a financial point of view.

Gasoline prices rose only slightly, and electricity prices significantly

It’s been a good ten years since the pace of e-mobility has gradually picked up with new models like the Tesla Model S and BMW i3. The i3 electric icon, for example, with a consumption of about 12 kWh at a price of 25 cents per kWh at the time, caused energy costs of about three euros per 100 kilometres. A petrol engine with i3 performance level consumed seven litres, which caused energy costs to nearly triple, given fuel prices of €1.60 per litre. At the time, auto experts and e-car manufacturers were happy calculating how quickly an additional investment in an all-electric model could be amortized. But that sweet arithmetic is now over.

In the past ten years, the price of gasoline has increased only slightly. Meanwhile, fuel prices rose to dizzying heights last year due to the Ukraine crisis, but by the end of 2022 petrol prices in Germany were slightly above the 2012 annual average. The situation is different for electricity prices. According to the Verivox Consumer Price Index, at the end of 2012 the kWh cost was still 24.93 cents on average across Germany. Ten years later it was 43 cents, an increase of 72 percent. In some cases, as in the case of the Cologne-based company Rheinenergie, the price per kilowatt-hour in basic supply was raised from 31 to 55 cents at the beginning of 2023, an increase of 77 percent. However, in one fell swoop.

The number of consumption-intensive electric vehicles is increasing

To make matters worse, the number of consumption-intensive e-cars on the market is increasing. One reason for this is the increasingly larger batteries for longer ranges. This is fine for everyday use, but many BEV models deviate from the BMW i3’s ideal fuel economy. In practice, 20 kWh per 100 km is now more the rule than the exception. If you are driving on the motorway in winter at a moderate 120 km/h and the air conditioning is activated, 30 kWh per 100 km is by no means unreasonable. As electricity prices rise, the former cost advantage is lost with these consumption values, even with electricity from the home wall box.

It can get really expensive if you have to fill it up on the go. This applies above all to the many fast charging stations that are now available along highways. The direct current offered there has always been more expensive than electricity from AC chargers or a home wall box. In addition, there is an opaque market for traction current charging at the charging station. Not every e-car driver has a perfect roaming contract for each constellation. In extreme cases, it can now happen that you even have to pay up to € 1.00 per kilowatt-hour with exotic service providers, as current research on Ladefuchs shows.

Contract customers can recharge their batteries cheaply at Ionity. On the other hand, other customers have to pay exorbitant prices at elegant charging stations.

(Photo: Volkswagen)

But even with large incumbent traction providers such as EnBW, previously moderate prices skyrocketed in mid-January. If you use EnBW’s “mobility +” charging app with a basic tariff, you now have to pay 65 cents per kWh at charging stations not operated by EnBW instead of 45 cents. On the other hand, 79 cents really do stay for Ionity fast chargers on the highway. Whether it’s 65, 79 or 98 cents – with a fuel-intensive e-car, energy costs of 20 euros or more per 100 km can easily be incurred on a long trip. That’s about twice what you’re currently paying for a comparable modern diesel car.

Significant typical differences in consumption

So anyone who wants to keep driving with cheap electricity should learn more about its practical consumption when choosing a model. There are now big differences here. E-car users are also advised to continue looking for cheaper and more convenient offers in the jungle of the current German driving tariff. Flexibility and multi-pronged strategies can do no harm. For example, EnBW introduced three parallel tariff tiers to increase prices. The basic fee of 18 euros per month is due for the new tariff L, while the kWh rate drops to 39 cents at charging stations operated by EnBW and to 50 cents at third-party providers. If you drive long distances, you must switch to this tariff as a user of the mobility + application, for example. This can pay off even on long trips. Instead, it is more interesting to look for special offers. Within the Ionity network, for example, car manufacturers such as Audi, Hyundai or Mercedes offer special terms where kWh rates of 29 cents can still be obtained.

A better alternative is the free tow stream. Supermarket chains, among others, have made a name for themselves in recent years because they allow electric vehicle users when shopping. Until recently, these providers included the Schwarz Group with Lidl and Kaufland. However, at the end of 2022, the payment mode is switched here. In the meantime, there are only a few free draw current providers – such as Aldi Süd, where you can now experience the hustle and bustle of charging stations during business hours and a sometimes irritable atmosphere. In fact, the offer at Aldi Süd is for supermarket customers, but now many carriers come, sometimes even daily, to take advantage of the free raffle stream. They occupy the charging station for a long time, while some Aldi customers go empty-handed. In this regard, it should come as no surprise if this free offer is discontinued soon.

A return to the old prices is not expected at present

Unlike fuel prices, for example, which fell dramatically again after reaching record levels in the spring of 2022, a downturn in the electricity market and a return to old prices is not expected, at least in the medium term. Instead, experts assume that consumers will have to get used to the recent sharp rise in electricity prices. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the solar system is now seen as the most tried and tested means of reducing draft current costs. If you charge at home and fill with electricity from your solar system in addition to electricity from the supplier, you can even significantly reduce your travel costs.

According to the ADAC, the price for a kilowatt-hour of solar power is between 8 and 18 cents, which is well below the current level of electricity from the grid. Electricity from the solar system that is not refueled is also fed into the grid and is billed at 7.1 to 8.2 cents per kWh, which increases the cost-effectiveness of the solar system.

Your PV system is financially attractive

However, not everyone has the opportunity to reduce the costs of driving electricity with their own PV system. The expansion of public charging infrastructure, which has been progressing for several years, aims to enable drivers who do not have their own home and access to their own wall charging device to use an e-vehicle in daily use, among other things. But those who depend on refueling at public charging stations could, given the current sharp rise in towing prices, reconsider switching to electric vehicles, at least from a financial point of view. Now and in the future, an e-car is a financially attractive alternative, especially for homeowners who invest in their own PV system.

However, fuel prices do not necessarily remain at the current relatively low level. The past year has shown how quickly the market has responded to price increase opportunities there.

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