Owners of electric cars are caught up in the energy crisis. The successive increases at the pump, caused by soaring electricity prices, raise questions about the profitability of these vehicles.
At a time when the electricity meter is panicking, is the “100% electric” car still as profitable compared to its big thermal sister?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the price of a megawatt hour on the wholesale market was around 50 euros. At the end of August, it exceeded 1600 euros for deliveries planned for this winter. Several causes are behind the explosion in prices: the drying up of Russian gas flows to Europe since the start of the conflict in Ukraine – many thermal power stations use gas to generate electricity – the drop in regime of the French nuclear fleet or even the difficult rise in power of renewable energies, among which wind power, remains controversial. All in an energy market put under pressure by the post-Covid economic recovery.
Such figures “necessarily mark the spirits, so it can question some people as to the decision to switch to electric mobility”, concedes to AFP Mathias Laffont, director “uses and territories” at the French Union of the electricity (UFE). In his paper, where the press agency wonders about the impact that this surge in current could have on the enthusiasm of the French for the electric car, the lobbyist for the electricity companies wishes to be reassuring.
Electricity market: prices multiplied by twelve in one year
According to him, the increases in the cost of refills “do not reverse the economic logic of the transition to electric”, stressing that it “must be assessed over several years”. At least… as long as these increases remain under control, he explains. In short, as long as the tariff shield deployed by the government persists.
A precision of size, insofar as this protective measure concerns exclusively the private customers of EDF. “At home, we are around two euros per 100 km, when in thermal we are between 12 and 16 euros depending on the performance of the cars”, thus abounds the general delegate of the National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility. (Avere-France). “80% of top-ups are done at home and at work,” he adds.
For the remaining 20%, the bill promises to be steep. Indeed, increases “at the pump” have multiplied since 2020 for electric vehicles that venture outside the perimeter of their home. In June, you had to pay an average of 15 euros for electricity every 100 kilometers to drive on the highway with your electric car, relates Auto More. An observation that sounds rather bad with the average consumption of 15 kWh / 100 kilometers of these vehicles.
The Franco-German magazine explains this cost by the simple fact that the companies that manage the charging stations on the motorways adapt their pricing systems so as not to operate at a loss. In addition to the ever-increasing cost of energy for these companies, there is the amortization of the heavy investments made to deploy terminals that charge much faster than at home.
As a result, on paper the price per kilowatt hour may well remain lower than that of a liter of gasoline, companies whose operating costs are soaring have opted for pricing… based on the time spent at the terminal and not on the energy actually taken. .
Hydrocarbons and electricity: an interchangeable demand
And this surge is not about to stop. Indeed, the average of 15 euros advanced by the weekly dates from before the increase that occurred at the start of the school year. Since September 1, the charging station operator Allego has raised its prices by 20%. A significant increase, which aims to pass on the global surge in energy prices, was justified by the Dutch company which claims 28,000 charging points across Europe.
It is now necessary to pay 50 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) instead of 40 cents for a recharge up to 22 kW on a good alternating current. Price that rises to 69 cents per kWh, against 55 previously, for fast direct current charging up to 50 kW. Beyond that, you will have to pay 79 cents per kWh, instead of 65.
Increases which, at the time of rebates granted by the government on a liter of gasoline (30 cents since September 1), come to put a little more damage to the economical image of electric vehicles.
Unsurprising change, insofar as the prices of electricity depend on those of gas, whose prices are themselves indexed to those of oil. Indeed, in many European countries, which do not have a nuclear production tool, it is from gas that electricity is generated. In short, the energy that drives so-called “clean” vehicles remains dependent on the price of the hydrocarbons used to produce it. In such a configuration, an increase in the number of electric cars automatically calls for an increase in the demand for gas and, by extension, the price of electricity.
Encouraged by subsidies, registrations of these vehicles have increased significantly in France in recent years, rising from less than 2% of sales in 2019 to 12% in 2022.
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