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8 min read

Should electric car charging be free for customers?

What should you, as a business, be offering your customers? Free or paid EV charging as a service?
Updated on
April 8, 2024

Car charging in a nutshell

EV charging does not have to be a mysterious blackbox. While it's a new technology, it's fairly easy to understand. Electric cars (or often referred to as EVs, electric vehicles), don't refuel the same way normal petrol or diesel vehicles do and take much longer to do so, generally.

With their significantly larger battery, that's used to power the electric motor, they need a dedicated smart charger (or sometimes referred to as 'chargepoints') to give them the fuel they need in a much faster time than a simple wall socket.

Using a wall socket to charge EVs is usually a last resort as it delivers a measly <2 kW output. This means charging an average EV would take at least 24 hours, and more than 3 times slower than what it could be.

A dedicated smart charger, while being able to charge an EV much faster, it still does not solve the issue of fast refuelling like petrol or diesel. The way drivers refuel their EVs has changed drastically.

Top-up rather than Fill-to-full

Unlike petrol/diesel vehicles, refuelling an EV doesn't happen as instantly as people would like. While there are rapid charging facilities, they are much more expensive to use and they are usually situated at in-transit locations such as service stops; regular use will also seriously degrade the battery life.

On average, and based on various factors such as range efficiency of the EV, one-hour of charging on a 7kW chargepoint will give 3-5 miles of range. This may not seem like a lot but EV drivers have learned to top-up their vehicles whenever they get the chance, instead of filling it to full.

Why does this affect you?

At least 81% of drivers who do not have private parking space, drive to venues with leisure activities and according to a survey, 65% of holidaymakers drive to their destination and 35% of them travel at least 250 miles to get there.

With the current range of EVs between 100 and 300 miles, this puts a large barrier against patrons visiting your hospitality venue. In other words, if you do not have EV charging facilities, you are likely to be losing out on an exponentially growing customer base.

So, should it be free like WiFi?

The ultimate question that most business owners would be asking. The answer: it depends on whether you are happy to make a loss on your electricity usage. EV charging as a service is not as developed as WiFi and the hardware and infrastructure that goes into EV charging costs at least 100x more than an internet subscription.

There are also electricity costs to consider.

For instance, charging an EV for 3 hours with a 7kW charger costs about £5.25 at a tariff of £0.25/kWh. This may not seem like much now, but with the rise of EVs and the number of EVs with large battery capacities, an average of 2 charging sessions per week would not be entirely far-fetched.

If that is the case, you could lose ~£550 per year, at the very least!

If you are a small business with low vehicle traffic, then you could gain quite a bit of footfall or patronage from providing free charging. However, if you are a business with high vehicle traffic, offering free EV charging could significantly eat up your profits!

Different Operating Models

You've decided to charge your customers for EV charging. Perfect. Now what do you do? First of all, you will need a payment-enabled & secure EV charger. A regular domestic EV charger won't do.

If you do install one, you run the risk of drivers being able to plug into your EV charger without paying and eating up your electricity. There are currently various financing solutions and operating models that EV charging suppliers provide. Ultimately, you would be looking to pay for both the hardware (chargers) and software (charger management software).

Here are some of the main operating models you can expect for your business:

*Varies; please speak to our team to discuss.

While generating an additional stream of revenue may not be your main concern, by providing EV charging as a service you can earn a non-trivial amount of profits. At the very least, you could utilise the profits to re-invest in crucial parts of the business.

If we take an example of 10 chargers installed, here are the financial projections per year. Not including any applicable capital tax allowance.

*The above values are based on a charging tariff of £0.50/kWh your customers pay you which is currently market standard and an average of 104x 4-hour charging sessions per charger. Income generated has been accounted for VoltShare's transaction fees.

Which one is right for you?

Ultimately, you will need to decide which is more important for you: to have complete control of your chargers or have someone else take ownership and manage them?

Direct Purchase/Ownership

The pros of direct purchase/ownership: 

  • Complete control over charging tariffs that are right for you and your customers
  • The bulk of the revenue will be yours with significant profits possible as EVs become mainstream
  • *With VoltShare, you can customise the chargers & signage with co-branding of your business' logo
  • *With VoltShare, you will obtain free business advertisement on the platform & lifelong promotion of your chargers
  • You can claim Capital Tax Allowance (Super-deduction at 130% rate)

The cons of direct purchase/ownership:

  • Higher capital costs
  • Service and maintenance not included
  • Software is not free, subscription fees apply (non-VoltShare suppliers)


The pros of leasing:

  • No long-term contract
  • No upfront capital costs
  • Service and maintenance included

The cons of leasing:

  • Costly to continue service for long
  • Difficult to scale the number of chargers due to high daily costs


The pros of fully-funded:

  • No upfront capital costs
  • Ongoing revenue stream
  • Service and maintenance included

The cons of fully-funded:

  • Low revenue stream
  • No control over how much your customers are charged, potentially poor customer experience
  • Must be available to anyone to use, potentially poor customer experience
  • Incredibly long time-commitment
  • Costly to break contract

Is VoltShare right for you?

With our charger management software provided free-for-life and market-leading low upfront capital costs, you would be able to start your EV charging journey relatively quickly and with no contractual obligation whatsoever.

Our fast turnaround (within weeks) from initial contact to final setting up of the chargers, ensures your business operations are not disrupted and expectations are met.

Unless you do not have the upfront capital to invest in EV charging, then VoltShare's operating model and market leading technology solution will be able to provide you with the tools to attract new customers and generate significant profits from doing so.

Our industry-leading solution allows you to gain additional revenue streams from media advertisement on each charger. With high-definition LED screen, you can generate significant profits per year from your parking space. This opens up tremendous opportunities for you to connect directly with your customers.

Speak to us today to find out more.

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VoltShare are an EV charging technology provider for the hospitality industry that simplifies management, payments collection, and technology integration. We empower small to large-sized venues to futureproof themselves, while ensuring they remain resource-efficient and profitable.

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