The words ‘electric car’ and ‘incentive’ are never far apart. From tax breaks to government subsidies and discounted home chargers, drivers are often treated to savings and deals when buying a new electric car – and one of the biggest offers right now is free public charging.
Charging an electric car is already cheaper than filling up with gasoline, but with the cost of living on the rise we can all appreciate some extra savings. Over a dozen of the world’s largest car manufacturers bundle free charging deals with their cars. From startups like Rivian and Lucid to industry veterans like Audi and BMW, partnerships with public charging companies like Electrify America let you recharge gratis.
Here’s a quick look at which car companies are offering free public charging in the U.S.
Echoing identical deals offered by several manufacturers at the moment, Audi has teamed up with Electrify America to offer Audi e-tron GT buyers three years of free charging. Electrify America is to the US market what Ionity is to Europe, and both offer a similar service to the Tesla Supercharger network.
Electrify America’s chargers operate at up to 350kW, and can deliver power to the battery of an Audi e-tron GT at the car’s maximum potential of 270kW. At that charge rate, filling from five to 80 percent (a gain of about 180 miles) takes around 22 minutes.
The Electrify America charging network currently includes around 3,500 chargers at 800 charging stations across the US. Stations are located an average of 70 miles apart on major US highways.
BMW also has a deal with Electrify America, but here things work slightly differently. When buyers of an BMW i4 or BMW iX vehicle plug into an Electrify America charger, the first 30 minutes of charging will be free on every visit for the first two years. According to BMW, 10 minutes of an ultra-fast Electrify America charger can add up to 108 miles of range to its cars.
Ford is another company to have a free charging deal with Electrify America, but this offer isn’t quite as comprehensive as that offered by Audi. Instead, buyers of the Mustang Mach-E (plus the F-150 Lightning pickup truck and E-Transit van) receive 250kWh of free charging at Electrify America stations. Given the size of the vehicles’ batteries, Ford says this is equal to between three and five full charges.
Guess which charging network Hyundai is offering a deal with? Yes, it’s Electrify America. In this case, buyers of the IONIQ 5 get the same deal as BMW drivers. This means their first 30 minutes hooked up to an ultra-fast charger at an Electrify America station is free, for their first two years of ownership.
That deal is specific to the IONIQ 5, as Hyundai has a different offer for buyers of its older IONIQ Electric and Kona Electric cars. Here, buyers get free access to Electrify America chargers for their first three years of ownership, with no usage cap.
Kia’s deal with its EV6 is more like that of the Ford Mach-E, in that it is limited by electricity usage instead of time. Here, EV6 owners have free access to Electrify America chargers for their first 1,000kWh of energy, valid for three years. This should equate to between 3,000 and 4,000 miles of free charging.
Yet another car company to partner with Electrify America is Lucid, the EV startup whose Lucid Air luxury sedan has the Tesla Model S firmly in its sights. In this case, customers who pre-order their Lucid Air by June 30 2022 receive free and unlimited access to the ultra-fast charging network for three years.
Now for a change, because Mazda is working with ChargePoint. In this case anyone buying a Mazda MX-30 electric car will receive $500 credit for use at ChargePoint stations. Or, they can put that credit towards the purchase of a home charger - also sold by ChargePoint.
ChargePoint claims to be the "world's largest and most open EV charging network", with over 18,000 charging locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Mercedes has exactly the same Electric America offer as BMW. This means buyers of its fully-electric cars don’t pay for the first 30 minutes of each charge for the first two years of vehicle ownership.
Time for a third charging network to enter the fray, and this time it’s EVgo. In this case, Nissan Leaf buyers get $250 credit to spend at EVgo chargers. Previously, those who pre-ordered a Nissan Ariya by 31 January 2022 received $500 of charge credit.
EVgo has over 850 fast charging stations in 34 states, all powered by renewable energy. According to the company 130 million Americans, and 80% of Californians, live within 10 miles of an EVgo fast charger.
Back to Electrify America now, and Polestar has an offer where buyers of the Polestar 2 receive the first 30 minutes of charge for free, for the first two years of ownership. So, exactly the same as BMW and Mercedes.
Anyone with the cash to buy a Porsche Taycan will get complimentary Electrify America charging for the first three years of ownership. Like BMW and the rest, this is limited to the first 30 minutes of each session. However that’s plenty of time to fill from near-empty to 80 percent, that’s to the Porsche’s 800-volt architecture and 270kW charge capability.
Rivian is taking the Tesla approach to charging, by building its own network. There are two parts to this plan; a set of ultra-fast chargers making up the Rivian Adventure Network, and slower chargers forming the Rivian Waypoints network.
This is much like Tesla’s Supercharger and Destination Chargers. Rivian R1S SUV and R1T pickup truck buyers will receive free access to these proprietary networks for their first 12 months of ownership.
Toyota’s first all-electric car, the not-so-snappily-named Toyota bZ4X, will include a year of free access to chargers provided by the EVgo network.
bZ4X owners will also have the option to purchase ChargePoint home chargers at participating Toyota dealerships. Drivers will also have "seamless access" to ChargePoint chargers, and will have the option to pay in the Toyota app — as opposed to ChargePoint's own.
Back to Electrify America again. Volkswagen ID.4 buyers are entitled to complimentary charging for the first 30 minutes of every session, for the first three years of ownership.
Finally, Volvo is offering buyers of its C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge 250kWh of complimentary charging from the Electrify America network. Buyers also receive a year’s free access to the charge network’s Pass+ membership, which offers charging at a discounted rate.