How to charge your electric car for free: the complete guide

What if charging an electric car was cheaper than we imagine? Freebies are still available in early 2023, but they’re increasingly rare. Let’s review together these rare pearls that allow you to ride without paying.

Source: Ulrich Rozier for Frandroid

Electric cars are significantly cheaper than their thermal counterparts on a daily basis. Indeed, the price of one kilowatt-hour at home is around 0.174 euros, while the cost of an electric car for 100 kilometers is often less than three euros. For a gasoline car to compete, it must consume Less than two liters per 100 kilometersthis is a waste of time.

On long journeys, as we regularly highlight, the bill can add up significantly due to fast charging prices that are up to four times more expensive than at home. What if we told you there are ways to drive on electricity for less, or even for free? Let’s see together what it is.

Fast charging is very expensive

Crossing France in an electric car is not cheap these days. Indeed, if we consider the average consumption of 20 kWh per 100 kilometers on the highway, The cost of 100 kilometers varies between 12 and 15 euros, depending on the charging networks used. We also have a file that summarizes the main networks and their properties.

One of the leaders in the sector, Ionity, for example, now offers charging from 0.69 euros per kilowatt hour. To charge a classic electric car (Tesla Model Y Propulsion, Kia EV6 58 kWh or Renault Megane e-tech) 10-80%, costing the customer almost 30 euros. The same operation at home will cost only 7 euros, less than a quarter of the price.

Tesla Model 3 Propulsion charging at the Ionity terminal // Source: Bob JOUY for Frandroid

This huge price difference depending on where you charge is very typical of electric mobility, and is not found in comparable proportions in thermal transport. Of course, some gas stations are more expensive than others, but under no circumstances will gasoline be three or four times more expensive in certain places.

Fortunately, this high-cost fast payment is not inevitable and above all, it remains very rare. The vast majority of electric car users have an average cost of less than three euros per 100 kilometers thanks to multiple charges at home, work or other potentially cheaper locations.

Free refills are a perk that tends to disappear

Are there shops, car parks or other places that only offer liters of petrol to vehicles that park there? But this is still the reality of electric mobility in 2022, as many brands are using it free charging stations to encourage customers to come to them.

Of course, this is not systematic, but as an electric car owner, you have to admit that it is always interesting to be able to charge the battery for free. Some malls offer several free charging stations, and while they may not be fast, their appeal is very real.

In a small village in Brittany, the Renault Zoe is in charge // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

Most of these are 7, 11 or 22 kW alternating current charging stations. Specifically, this means thatin one hour of charging you recover enough to cover a distance of 50 to 150 kilometers. For shopping malls where you can easily spend a few hours, you are very likely to fully charge your battery.

An electric motorist who travels 1000 kilometers a month and charges twice a month at a free charging station will reduce his expenses by half for 100 kilometers! Indeed, it takes 200 kWh to travel 1,000 kilometers with a consumption of 20 kWh per 100 kilometers. Two free 50 kWh charges (i.e. 100 kWh) really mean a 50% saving and reduce costs from €3.4 to €1.7 per 100 kilometers.

So the main problem is: How to identify and use these free charging stations wisely and where to find them?

Exceptions that continue to exist

Spread the word: don’t imagine traveling on the highway and arriving at a terminal that charges you for free. This scenario is practically non-existent, although in rare exceptions the station’s Ionity terminal is free in time. It’s just that the latter is defective and slow to charge. This is also stated in the Ionity program.

These are the more common ones free charging stations in shopping center parking lots. The rules are not always the same, though it is not unusual to be able to connect “within a few hours”.. Among the terminals that allow this, we find the chargers for Tesla, which are located next to certain Superchargers. Near Troyes, Tours or Sallanches.

In addition to Tesla’s numerous fast chargers, up to three slow charging stations (known as Tesla Wall Connector) with cable attachment, so you don’t need cable to enjoy it. They are Fits all electric vehicles with a Type 2 socket, and is currently free of charge. This is, for example, what Dacia Spring does in the photo of one of the articles.

Other terminal operators use a different strategy, as does Driveco the first 30 minutes are free in certain places. After this grace period, the authorities start paying, but there is a trick that some people use to avoid paying. After 29 minutes of charging, it is possible to disconnect and restart charging in stages.but that means returning to your car often, which is both restrictive and against the spirit of these freebies.

Free charging stations are available on the Chargemap app

One of the most effective ways to find free charging locations is to use the excellent Chargemap app, where you can filter which stations are free. So you will find supermarkets, shopping malls, city car parks or even hotels allowing you to spend time charging without spending a dime. Don’t hesitate to check your usual parking spots to see if the terminals are free, because It probably won’t last forever…

The future of charging will be more expensive overall

No one can miss The energy crisis currently affecting Europe, where electricity prices are at record highs. Although there is a price shield aimed at protecting individuals in France, with a few rare exceptions, the future of electric mobility should be envisioned as a toll.

Apart from the purely financial aspect related to the current increase in energy prices, free payments increase the risk of “opportunistic” payments multiplying, to punish those who should really be accused. In effect, Who would turn down the offer of a few tens of kilometers of extra autonomy without needing it? If it is enough to park where the free terminal is available, many will benefit from it.

And this is a behavior we observe on a daily basis: when the terminals are paid, there is very little abuse, whereas when the terminals are free, some are more reluctant to contact them for some reason.. Terminal operators take this into account and know it those who need the download the most will be willing to pay. But for now, the few places that continue to offer free charging are a rare find for EV drivers.

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