public charging station cost

Today, public charging stations are sprouting up everywhere. So what is the Public Charging Station Cost? As of 2019, there are approximately 17,500 locations across the US that serve as public use electric vehicle charging stations. This is a rather large number, especially when you consider the ratio of gas stations to cars. There are only an estimated 168,000 gas stations compared to the 276 million vehicles that use them. However, the ratio for public charging stations 1 to 74 instead of 1 to 1600 for gas stations. And in California where over half of the EV U.S. sales are, there are currently 21,948 public electric vehicle charging stations for 655,088 EVs, which has an even more compelling ratio, 1 to 29. We will review the level 3 charging station cost, commercial ev charging station cost and electric car charging station installation cost below.

electric car charging station installation cost

If you’re an electric vehicle driver, you may find that charging your car at home or work meets the majority of your charging needs like the other 80% of current EV drivers. However, sometimes you may need to charge your electric car in public because of a long road trip or something else. Whatever the case, when you charge your electric car at a public charging station, you will have fees associated. This article will break down public EV charging stations cost.

Public charging station rates and availability may be unfamiliar to new electric vehicle owners. Fortunately, there are a number of resources where you can tell exactly where to locate an electric vehicle charging station. To find a publicly available station to charge your EV battery, you can try PlugShare or Google Maps or use EVmatch or AmpUp for peer-to-peer charging.

Public Charging Station Cost

If you are going to use a public outdoor EV charging network, you need to know that charging costs change depending on the time of day or geographic area.

Should Utility Customers Pay For Electric-Car Charging Stations They Don't  Use?

The location sets the baseline cost of energy. According to EIA, the July 2019 national average for commercial electricity is only $0.11 per kWh, but the price rate ranges from $.08 per kWh in Nevada, which is low, to the highest rate of $0.19 per kWh in California. This means that because of the higher price of energy and electricity costs in that specific location, the baseline price at public charging stations in California is likely going to be higher than elsewhere in the country. State legislation and regulation determines the maximum a company can charge based on the source of the energy provided.

Even if a public charging system is only supplementing their power from electric utilities, there are still specific cost regulations that must be complied with. Regulations change depending on the law in certain states, which dictate how charging stations can structure their rates for electricity.

Public Charging Pricing Models

There are three primary public charging pricing models: (1) pay as you go, (2) monthly subscriptions and (3) free.

Some charge station network providers offer both a combination of the two, resulting in a lot of variations for electric vehicle drivers. However, the most common pricing method and the most favored by drivers is pay as you go. Still, some networks want to incentivize you with a lower rate if you are a frequent member, so the subscription method could be right for you if there is a convenient public charger that you rely on weekly.

Membership Fees

Most EV drivers do not want a monthly subscription or membership, but becoming a free member of a charging network is easy if you need to use a public station to authenticate the charge. You can download the app, signup and pay with the app by placing a credit card on file. While only some charging networks will require an initial deposit of $25, the trend is to offer guest charging so anyone can pull up and pay with a credit card without the hassle of signing up as a member.

For the networks that offer subscription memberships, the monthly rates range from $4 to $7.99.

Pay As You Go Public Charging Prices

Generally public charging station rates are based on a number of dimensions: location, time of use, length of use, and power level, which factor in the price of the commercial electricity usage. For example, California has the highest electricity rates in the country and time-of use pricing, which varies by time, weekday and season. In Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) territory weekday peak pricing is between 3 – 8 p.m. Furthermore, charging networks price Level 2 AC charging differently than DC charging, which also have a range of power levels from 50kW – 350 kW.

Public Charging Rates

Pricing rates can be established by the site-host owner or the EV charging network, which impacts the pricing as there are different motivations for each. For example, a site-host may want to offer free public charging to bring more customers to its retail stores or offer it as a perk to increase “dwell time.”

That said, charging “by the minute,” or per-minute costs are most commonly used, but you can also see pricing per charging session and per kWh.

When charging by the minute, charging systems will have a standardized amount of electricity that is flowing into the car. There is no guarantee about how much electrical current is flowing into your vehicle, though most stations will offer a reassurance like a “20 minute supercharge.” Even a 20-minute fast charge when you are paying by the minute can add up.

Public Charging Idle Fees

Different charging networks will incentivize proper utilization by charging electric vehicle drivers for idling. These fees also vary by network and location. For example, an idle fee can range from $0.40 per-minute to $1.30 per minute.

Most networks no longer have set up fees or termination fees for members, but credit card fees vary across locations if you pay as you go.

What is the most convenient and affordable place to charge?

Charging your car at home, and paying your electric utility company for the energy you consume. The difference comes at the price of the energy itself. Kilowatts per hour refers to how many kilowatts are being pumped into the battery of the car per hour. On a home system utilizing a level 2 EV charger, a typical rate at which a vehicle consumes energy is 7.2kWh. Most plug-in electric vehicles have a capacity of 50kW, meaning a full charge on a V2 charging unit can take about 7 hours.

For example, with a monthly membership fee, one charging station network still charges $1.50/hour for level 2 charging. The average time of the charge for an electric vehicle on a level 2 system is about seven hours for a full charge. This means that a full charge with this charging network would cost you $11. When you compare this to the average cost of an EV at-home charging unit, you realize that charging at home saves you about 50%!

Furthermore, commercial electricity rates are higher than residential retail rates. Currently, paying for your energy outside of the home is a good option if you need it in a pinch, but the price you pay for charging outside of home or work is much higher than what you would pay using a high-quality, level 2 home charger. Investing in a home EV rapid charging station will save you time, be less work and be less expensive.

Best Electric Cars for 2020: Reviews, Photos, and More

Best Electric Cars | CarMax

Electric cars are practical and easy to drive with dynamic on-road performance, abundant technology, and eye-catching designs. If you’re looking for a zero-emission daily commuter that just plugs in and goes, an electric car makes great sense with a wide range of models to choose from.

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of the eight best electric cars for 2020 shoppers, based on CarMax sales data from February 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020.

  1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  2. Mercedes-Benz B-Class
  3. Ford Focus Electric
  4. Mercedes-Benz B250e
  5. Chevrolet Spark EV
  6. BMW i3
  7. Chevrolet Bolt EV
  8. Nissan Leaf


Mitsubishi i-MiEV

8 Best Electric Cars for 2020: Reviews, Photos, and More: Mitsubishi i-MiEV | CarMax

When it comes to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, cute and compact is the name of the game. This all-electric four-passenger hatchback ended production in 2017 but remains a great option if you need a city runabout. With its tight 30.8-ft turning circle, you’ll be able to dodge through city traffic and master tricky parking moves in the 2017 i-MiEV. With 66 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque from the 49-kilowatt electric motor and 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, this 2017 EV has just the right amount of enthusiasm, whether commuting to the office or meeting up with friends. The 2017 i-MiEV is available in one trim level (ES) and comes standard with:

  • Power-adjustable heated sideview mirrors
  • Six-way manually adjustable driver seat
  • Electric air conditioner and cabin heater
  • On-board battery charging system with 120V and 240V charge ports
  • Level 3 DC quick charge port


Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Best Electric Cars: Mercedes-Benz B-class | CarMax

If you’re shopping for an electric car with a refined interior and spirited performance, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive has exactly what you want. Available in 2014–2015 models, this EV’s 174-hp 32-kilowatt electric motor and 28-kWh lithium-ion battery can fly from zero to 60 mph in only 7.9 seconds, making it very quick off the line. Different drive modes also let you tap into sportier dynamics, should you crave more engaging performance. With interior features, like MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery and real wood trim (2014–2015 models), the cabin of the B-Class Electric Drive is loaded with class. Available in one trim, all 2014–2015 B-Class Electric Drive models come standard with:

  • LED daytime running lights
  • Powered front seats with memory
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seats
  • Cruise control
  • mbrace® in-vehicle technology suite


Ford Focus Electric

Best Electric Cars: Ford Focus Electric | CarMax

The 2017–2018 Ford Focus Electric is a hatchback with plenty of practicality and driveability. Comfortable over bumps and sporty around turns, this EV is great any day of the week, whether zipping between meetings or enjoying a night on the town. With an EPA-estimated range of 115 miles on a full charge, the 2017–2018 Focus Electric lets you go the distance before having to refresh the 33.5-kWh lithium-ion battery.1 The hatchback design is also very useful, offering 14.2 cu-ft of cargo space for groceries or luggage for business trips. All 2017–2018 Focus Electric models come well-equipped with standard features, including:

  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control
  • Eight-inch LCD capacitive touchscreen
  • Reverse sensing system
  • Voice-activated navigation system


Mercedes-Benz B250e

Best Electric Cars: Mercedes-Benz B-class | CarMax

The Mercedes-Benz B250e—formerly known as the B-Class Electric Drive—sets the bar high for comfort and performance. 2016–2017 models use a 177-hp 132-kilowatt electric motor and 28-kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides an EPA-estimated 87-mile range on a full charge.1 The regenerative braking system can also be manually controlled using steering wheel paddle shifters to customize the amount of regeneration based on your driving conditions. With generous head and legroom for front and rear passengers, the 2017–2018 B250e also ups the ante on practicality with 21.6 cu-ft of cargo volume. All 2016–2017 B250e models come standard with:

  • LED daytime running lights
  • MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery
  • Driver seat memory settings
  • Seven-inch display screen with COMAND interface
  • Front-collision mitigation system

Shop Best Used Electric Cars Near You

2012 Ford Focus Electric$9,599*•57KIndependence, Missouri2014 Ford Focus Electric$10,599*•33KPleasant Hill, California2014 Ford Focus Electric$9,998*•52KSeattle, Washington2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive$15,998*•43KLos Angeles, California2013 Ford Focus Electric$9,998*•40KLas Vegas, Nevada2012 Mitsubishi i-MIEV SE$7,998*•24KNaperville, Illinois2012 Mitsubishi i-MIEV SE$7,599*•27KRochester, New York2012 Ford Focus Electric$8,998*•54KSan Diego, California2012 Mitsubishi i-MIEV ES$7,599*•40KLos Angeles, California2013 Ford Focus Electric$9,998*•46KSan Diego, CaliforniaNext04

Chevrolet Spark EV

Best Electric Cars: Chevrolet Spark EV | CarMax

If you’re on the hunt for a small electric car that’s quick on its feet, the Chevrolet Spark EV will get you moving in a flash. Powered by a 105-kilowatt electric motor and an 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery, the 2016 Spark EV has a zero-to-60 mph time of only 7.2 seconds. Its compact wheelbase and low center of gravity also make the Spark EV feel well-balanced around turns. With an EPA-estimated range of 82 miles on a full charge (2016 model), this four-passenger hatchback is a sensible choice for running errands or commuting in the city.1 The 2016 Spark EV is available in two trims and the base 1LT comes standard with:

  • 120V onboard charger
  • Regenerative braking system
  • Seven-inch touchscreen display
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Equipped with OnStar functionality (activation required)2


BMW i3

Best Electric Cars: BMW i3 | CarMax

The 2017–2019 BMW i3 is a small EV that’s fun-to-drive and surprisingly spacious with room for four passengers. The cargo area boasts 15.1 cu-ft of volume to fit golf clubs and luggage, but the rear seats also fold flat to open up 36.9 cubes for larger items (2017–2019 models). Once loaded up, the i3 is raring to go, delivering 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the base single electric motor and single-speed transmission on 2017–2019 models. If you’re looking for an i3 with high range figures, check out the 2019 model, which boasts a 42-kWh battery and an EPA-estimated range of 153 miles on a full charge.3 The 2019 i3 also offers an 0.6L two-cylinder gasoline generator range extender to bump the EPA-estimated range to 200 miles with a full charge and full tank of gas.3 All 2017–2019 i3 base models come standard with:

  • Rain-sensing automatic headlights
  • Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors
  • Automatic climate control
  • Center armrest
  • Dynamic cruise control


Chevrolet Bolt EV

Best Electric Cars: Chevrolet Bolt EV | CarMax

When it comes to technology, space, and power, the Chevrolet Bolt EV doesn’t hold back. 2017–2019 models generate 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque from the high-capacity electric motor that can reach speeds of 60 mph from zero in only 6.5 seconds. Equipped with a 60-kWh battery, you’ll also enjoy an EPA-estimated driving range of 238 miles on a full charge on 2017–2019 models, letting you commute, carpool kids, and run errands before stopping to recharge.1 With 16.9 cu-ft of cargo space (2017–2019 models), you’ll have plenty of storage space for groceries and school bags, too. All 2017–2019 Bolt EV base models are brimming with high tech features, including the following on the LT trim:

  • LED headlamps and taillamps
  • Teen driver system
  • Rear-vision camera
  • Equipped with OnStar functionality (activation required)2
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ smartphone integration


Nissan Leaf

Best Electric Cars: Nissan LEAF | CarMax

Sliding into our top spot is the Nissan Leaf, which was first available in 2011. Since then, the Leaf has evolved through various generations, including the 2018–2019 model delivering an EPA-estimated 150-mile range on a full charge with the 110-kilowatt electric motor with a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery.1 You can also find 2019 Leaf Plus models with a 160-kilowatt electric motor and a 62 kWh lithium-ion battery that delivers an EPA-estimated range of 226 miles on a full charge.1 With 23.6 cu-ft of cargo space behind the rear seats, the 2017–2019 Leaf’s hatchback design has plenty of room for your belongings. Standard features on the 2017–2019 Leaf S include:

  • 16-inch steel wheels
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Six-way manually adjustable driver seat
  • Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Rearview monitor

No matter which model you choose, an electric car is a smart way to move around town and a great way to lead a greener lifestyle. With this list as your guide, you’re sure to find a battery-powered vehicle that fits your range considerations, lifestyle, and budget.

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