A complete guide to electric car charging costs in Europe
Understanding electric car charging costs in Europe
So you have got to grips with charging in your home country, no problem. You have got it down, you know the prices, you plug into electricity and drive off with your EV. Easy. However, you plan to travel this summer and are confronted with the murky waters of charging tariffs abroad. With all the different operators, pricing models and fees it is not always as straightforward as you would like it to be, we get it. That’s why we want to be as clear and transparent (as we can) about the different options and models. That means you are able to make an informed decision of where you want to charge and what cost you are comfortable with.
Public EV charging costs in Europe
Flat rate EV charging
In many countries in Europe you pay per kWh, and depending on the provider, you may have a transaction fee. For Shell Recharge, there is a transaction fee of £0.35, with a maximum of £7.00 per month. The main distinction here is between DC-charging, or rapid charging and AC-chargers, or fast chargers. Rapid charging when travelling is convenient and quick. Especially en route to a holiday destination, the temptation can be to get there as quickly as possible. But be aware, rapid chargers can come at an extra cost. Prices can go up quickly due to the high grid connection costs and the costly infrastructure. Our tip is to factor this into your planning. We highly recommend you take your time and enjoy the journey (of course, if time is not of a premium), it makes for a much more enjoyable trip. For example, if you plan to stop for a long leisurely lunch, plan this around the availability of slower fast chargers, to maximize cost and time. Read Carole’s cliché but very true advice, on appreciating the journey, not the destination.
Countries with a flat rate electric car energy tariff: UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands
Pay per minute and blocking fee EV charging
However, in some countries, as well as paying for the energy that you use, some providers also charge a price per minute. The price per minute can be additional to the energy costs. This can be particularly annoying if you are not used to this. Another fee to be conscious of is what's called a “blocking fee”. The model for this often gives the driver up to the first 4 hours for free, but can be different per charge point or service provider. After the allocated free time, it is common to see cost per minute pricing. The idea behind the charge per minute and blocking fee is to stimulate movement and discourage drivers from blocking a charge point when it is not needed. As much as this makes sense, and only has a big financial impact if left charging for long periods of time, it can be frustrating.
We always recommend checking the tariff in the app before plugging in, but additionally we recommend just plugging your EV in for the charging time it needs. Drivers hogging charge points is a major source of irritation for many EV motorists, so it is good to get in the habit of this anyway.
Charge per minute countries - France, Portugal, Austria
Blocking fee - Common in Germany
Always check the Shell Recharge app for EV charging prices
As you probably know from charging at public charge points in your home country, each operator is free to decide which billing model to use. They choose whether to charge costs per minute or kWh. As the roaming providers offer access to the charging stations of different operators, each setting their own prices, there is no central price in a roaming network.
Although we want to, we simply can’t give exact pricing in a simple overview due to the huge differences between operators and countries. We know this can be a pain point. However, Shell Recharge tries to take the stress out of charging and make the entire experience as seamless as possible. If you use both the Shell Recharge app and our easy-to-use charge card, it can streamline the experience and make pricing more transparent. The app will tell you the price and also give you an estimation of what your charge session will cost.
Update: We have just released a new feature in the Shell Recharge app that can help with this. The update will show you exactly how much time has elapsed, the energy consumed, and an estimated cost for that specific charge session.
How will I be invoiced while on holiday?
You can pay for the charge you use across the full network with the same invoicing, but you will get an invoice for every country you've charged in. This is because local VAT applies. For example, if you’ve charged in three countries during your holiday, then you will receive three invoices. No need to set up any new billing information though, we’ve tried to make plugging in as easy as possible, wherever you are.
Costs to use a lease or company EV cars abroad
In most cases, you can use your lease card abroad. There is no flat rate, the cost of a charge station is passed straight through to the lease. We recommend speaking to your employee directly about this. They’ll be responsible for setting up the specific rules for the car policy in your company. There are some key things you should be aware of, questions like what the company policy is on using the company charge card for international holiday charging. And what to do if the charge card does not work. Make sure to check whether you need a second card or a different payment method and whether you can get reimbursed.
Where can I charge my EV for free in Europe?
To support the transition to renewable and low carbon energy, some EV charging stations are free to use. You might find free charging at shopping centres, supermarkets, hotels and dealerships. Something to bear in mind when locating free chargers is that some free charge points come with access restrictions. Commonly, this is for ‘customer use only’ and will require you to validate your parking in order to enjoy the free charging. Therefore, we suggest stopping off for lunch or grabbing provisions for a picnic and taking advantage.
EV car-parking costs
Something that is not known by everyone, but an important thing to remember, is that the cost of a charge station is separate from the fee it costs to park your EV. However, this is not the case everywhere. In some public parking, not only is it free to charge your EV, but the actual parking is free too. In most cases, though, the paid parking is also cheaper for electric vehicles. So it’s win, win.
How to avoid electric pricing surprises abroad
It’s a horrible feeling when you receive a bill you were not expecting. To avoid this, here’s what we suggest you do before plugging in:
- Download the Shell Recharge app and order a charge card
- Check the estimated session costs based on the charge point tariffs, your car and your charging needs at that moment (e.g. current battery level).
- Compare tariffs of available charge points nearby. This allows you to make an informed decision on where you’d like to charge your car and for how much, with no hidden surprises.
- Don’t hang around, if you’re done charging, either carry on with your journey or move the car into a regular car parking space
- Pay attention! Be wary of the cost per minute tariff, this can add up.
With all the information, you are then equipped to make a balanced decision, weighing up need and price. Now you can choose where you’d like to charge your car and for how much, with no hidden surprises.
FAQs about electric car charging costs in Europe
You can charge your EV anywhere there is a working EV charge point. The Shell Recharge network spans 33 countries in Europe, so yes, you can charge almost anywhere. Chargers are usually found in car parks, on-street parking, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. Make sure to check the app for exact locations.
You might be surprised to hear that there are still quite a lot of free EV charging points around the UK and Europe. You might find free charging at shopping centres, supermarkets, public car parks and dealerships. As you might imagine, many attractions also offer free charging as a means of encouraging people to visit. These include cafés, restaurants, pubs, museums, garden centres, theatres and zoos. It’s well worth checking this out, but always double check to avoid any unexpected costs.
The Shell Recharge charge card provides customers with access to a network of over 370 roaming partners, including 300,00 charge points. This means you can charge on-the-go at public charge points all across Europe. Our Shell Recharge charging network spans across Europe, so you can charge in over 33 countries. When you get to the charge point, start a charging session with an active charge card or key fob. Alternatively, scan the QR-sticker with your smartphone and select instant payment or start a session with the Shell Recharge app. It is important to know, with the last option, you must have a charge card activated in the app. When you open the app, the instructions will guide you through.
Just like you would in your home country, you can see if the charge point is available using the Shell Recharge app. If it is, a green checkmark icon will be shown.
In many European countries, like the Netherlands, UK and Germany, you pay per kWh. For some providers, Shell Recharge included, there is also a transaction fee. Shell Recharge have a transaction fee of £0.35, with a maximum of £7.00 per month. In charge per minute countries, like France, you also get charged for the time you are charging.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables that affect the final cost of a charge session. As a result, we can not give price estimates. Instead, we always recommend checking the Shell Recharge app.
Our Shell Recharge charging network spans across Europe, allowing you to charge in over 33 countries. They are as follows:
- Czech Republic
- Isle of Man
- San Marino
- United Kingdom