Osprey EV charging

Osprey increases prices to £1 per kWh for EV charging amid soaring energy costs

Customers furious

Electric vehicle recharging company Osprey has announced an enormous hike in the cost to use its rapid chargers, becoming the first operator to increase prices to £1 per kilowatt hour, with the new pricing coming into effect from today, September 15.

The announcement came in an email to Osprey customers accompanied by a short video from the company’s CEO, Ian Johnston, explaining the rationale behind the decision.

In it, Johnston described the circumstances surrounding the change as “extraordinary” and went on to cite the impact of the energy crisis on the price of electricity as the primary reason that Osprey had decided to increase its prices so drastically.

He said that businesses have yet to hear any of the details of the government’s planned support to help companies struggling with the energy crisis and nor had any timeframe been given as to when the details of any supports would be announced.

Johnston also added that unlike for residential customers “to date there has been no cap on the prices that businesses pay for their electricity.”

“Indeed in recent weeks,” he said, “the price of electricity has risen to more than three times what it was last year.

“Until we know more about the government’s support scheme, we have got no choice but to increase our pricing.

“Of course, we want to reduce these prices if we are able to do so.”

A price of £1 per kilowatt hour makes Osprey the most expensive rapid charging network in the UK by some margin, with the highest price previously charged by an operator being Ionity’s 69p per kilowatt hour. Osprey’s prices are now some 50% higher than its next nearest competitor.

This is Osprey’s second major price hike in eight weeks, having upped its prices from 49p per kilowatt hour to 66p in July.

Osprey EV charging

At a price of £1 per kilowatt hour, it would cost approximately £31.50 to charge a car such as a Peugeot e-208 or Opel Corsa Electric with a 45kWh usable battery from 10% to 80% — or more than £50 to top-up a Tesla Model 3 by the same percentage.

The company’s chargers have been hailed as some of the simplest to use with no sign-up required and the majority of its units offer charging at up to 50kW, though some of its latest chargers in some locations can operate at up to 175kW.

Osprey’s announcement comes as energy prices reach record highs due to a range of factors including high gas prices caused by Russia’s reaction to western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

With households up and down the country struggling to pay for electricity and to heat their homes, electric vehicle owners also face significantly higher costs to charge their cars at home.

EVs still cheaper than petrol with home charging

In August, the government announced a household electricity price cap of 52p per kilowatt hour, which, at the top end, would have meant that many electric cars normally charged at home would have potentially been comparable in their running costs to diesel vehicles.

The new Energy Price Guarantee announced on September 8 and due to go into effect from October 1, however, is likely to work out at around 34p per kilowatt hour, meaning that charging an electric vehicle at domestic rates will likely still work out far cheaper than running a combustion-powered vehicle.

With rising public charging prices though, the same may not be true for those who cannot charge at home. According to calculations made by What Car? Magazine, with diesel at £1.80 per litre, a diesel car returning 60mpg will cost around 13p per mile to run; an average electric car, even charged at a 22kW public charger, will cost around 8p per mile.

Using rapid public chargers though (which, admittedly, isn’t the norm for overnight charging even for those without access to a home wall box), the cost per mile works out at around 13p — the same as an economical diesel vehicle, or more if using more expensive chargers such as Osprey’s.

Rising cost of energy

With energy prices rising as they are, the efficiency of electric vehicles and how much mileage drivers can get per kilowatt hour is now more important than ever. What was true for combustion-powered vehicles is also true for electric ones: that smaller, lighter cars are more efficient and will return lower consumption figures.

According to respondents in Which? magazine’s 2022 car survey, the average distance covered by British motorists every year was 8,100 miles.

Highlighting the difference that EV efficiency can make in drivers’ pockets, Which? compared the average efficiency of the cars it had tested in the city car category (3.53 miles/kWh) with that of those it had tested in the mid-to-large SUV group (2.65 miles/kWh).

Using the new 34p per kilowatt hour price cap, Which? calculated that the average cost of running an electric city car over 8,100 miles worked out at 9.6p per mile versus 13p per mile for a medium-to-large SUV.

While that may not sound like much, over the course of 8,100 miles, that works out at respective costs of £781.39 and £1,049.97, or a difference of £268.58 over the course of a year in favour of the smaller car.

Crucially, however, that 13p per mile for the larger vehicle is uncomfortably close to the cost of running a diesel model.

A survey of 2,000 people by the leasing firm Rivervale Leasing found that some 43% of people don’t believe that the UK will ever be fully ready to make the wholesale switch to electric cars. While that’s something that can be taken with a pinch of salt, out of that grouping the highest portion (21%) said that rising energy costs and the potential for higher home energy tariffs would act as a disincentive for the uptake of EVs, something that way be concerning in the long run.

With the cost of running an EV inching closer to that of some combustion-engined vehicles, the rising cost of energy has the potential to put a dent in one of the main attractions of running an electric vehicle and may cause booming sales of electric cars to plateau if electricity prices don’t fall soon.

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