Research from Citizens Advice has found that a lack of clear information is making it difficult for electric vehicle (EV) drivers to work out the best electricity tariff to choose to charge their vehicles.
The Take Charge report, released yesterday (28 January), examined tariff information available online.
It found unclear extras such as discounts on home chargers, free installation of chargers and discounts for public chargers, make it hard for consumers to determine the actual cost of a particular tariff.
It also discovered a wide variation in the price of tariffs available and that some consumers, such as those who are ineligible for the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) charge point grant, are not able to fully access the benefits of EV tariffs.
With more than 178,000 new registrations of EVs and alternatively-fuelled vehicles between the start of 2013 and September 2018, the EV market in the UK is ever-expanding.
Citizens Advice believes that solutions need to be developed to support EV drivers, including tools to help accurately estimate bills.
It also suggests that in time, price comparison sites should look to include EV tariffs and develop dedicated EV sections.
It found ten out of the 72 active domestic energy suppliers offer an EV tariff, with the number of such tariffs increasing from two in August 2017 to ten in September last year.
Half of the tariffs analysed in the report offer a discount on a home charger or public charge points, however the value of this discount can vary.
None of the tariffs can be used with a prepayment meter and few allow for payment methods other than monthly direct debit.
All the tariffs Citizens Advice analysed come with a renewable energy promise and tariff prices varied according to supplier and meter type.
The consumer champion for energy added that when it estimated annual energy costs, it found a range of prices from £811 to £1,442 a year.
Interestingly the research highlights that EV-specific tariffs do not necessarily offer the best rates for EV users.
In response to the report Fiona Howarth, chief executive of Octopus Electric Vehicles which provides the Octopus Energy Go tariff, said: “This report demonstrates that time of use tariffs are great for EV drivers, and we need to see more of this sort of innovation.
“Incentivising customers to charge when energy is cheap and green, and when the grid has availability is key to delivering an affordable low carbon future.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The EV tariff market is expanding rapidly and it is crucial that consumers can make informed choices.
“It’s important to have genuine choice between competing tariffs. That means there needs to be transparency of costs and that suppliers properly support this growing group of consumers.”
According to new research from Deloitte pure electric vehicles are expected to become as cheap to own and operate as their petrol and diesel equivalents on a worldwide basis by as early as 2022.
The tipping point in the UK however is forecast to come a year earlier, thanks in part to a £3,500 grant from the government for EV purchases.
In the absence of this subsidy, the milestone would be set back by three years to 2024.