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Navigating the UK's Public Charging Networks

10 min to readElectric vehicles
The UK has thousands of electric vehicle (EV) charging points spanning the length of the country, and accessibility is improving all the time. If you've just bought an electric car, it's useful to map out some EV charging stations before planning a big journey. From the number of electric car charging points available to the potential costs, we take a detailed look at the UK's main networks.
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BP Pulse

How many electric car charging points? Founded as Chargemaster, bp pulse operates more than 8,000 EV charging stations in city centres and at locations close to the strategic road network ? including 150kW units now rolling out at fuel forecourts.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 13-amp (three-pin plug) and 7kW (Type 2 socket), 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered), 150kW (CHAdeMO/CCS tethered)

How do you access the network? Charge points are located and controlled using the bp pulse smartphone app, which also processes payments. Membership is optional, but subscribers can also opt for RFID cards or key fobs which are pressed against a target on the charger to start or stop a session. Contactless payments are available at pulse50 (50kW) and pulse150 (150kW) chargers.

What does it cost? Electric vehicle charging point costs vary by speed and membership:

  • Contactless payments cost 26p/kWh (pulse7), 35p/kWh (pulse50) or 42p/kWh (pulse150).
  • Pay-as-you-go using the app costs 20p/kWh (pulse7), 29p/kWh (pulse50) or 42p/kWh (pulse150).
  • Membership is priced at £7.85 per month, with charging at 16p/kWh (pulse7), 23p/kWh (pulse50) or 27p/kWh (pulse150). Subscribers can also charge for free at selected units.

More information: bppulse.co.uk

Char.gy

How many electric car charging points? On-street parking specialist Char.gy has around 1,000 electric car charging points in the UK installed on urban lampposts and bollards.

Where are they? The South East, Birmingham and Northern Ireland.

Which speeds and connectors? 7kW and 22kW (Type 2 socket)

How do you access the network? Each charge point has a unique code, enabling access and payment via the smartphone app or a web browser, which requires a free account. Charging sessions can also be added to Octopus Energy home tariffs, or paid through the NewMotion app.

What does it cost? The network's electric vehicle charging point cost varies depending on subscription.

  • Pay-as-you-go access costs 33p/kWh.
  • Casual subscriptions cost £38.99 per month for 200kWh (equivalent to 19.5p/kWh) or 15p/kWh for excess usage.
  • Unlimited subscriptions cost £68 per month, with no additional costs to charge.

More information: char.gy

ChargePlace Scotland

How many electric car charging points? Run by the Scottish Government, ChargePlace Scotland operates more than 1,500 chargers at transport hubs, along major routes and in city centres.

Where are they? Scotland, including the islands.

Which speeds and connectors? 3-22kW (Type 2 socket), 50-150kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? EV charging stations are located and controlled using the ChargePlace Scotland smartphone app, identified by a unique number on the unit. Guest access is provided through a website app. Subscribers get an RFID access card.

What does it cost? The cost of these electric car charging points are set by the hosts and billed either by time or energy usage. Most of the network is free for members to access. Subscription costs £20 per year.

More information: chargeplacescotland.org

ChargeYourCar

How many electric car charging points? ChargeYourCar is owned by bp pulse and covers 1,500 chargers in car parks and city centres, as well as the EV charging stations on the ChargePlace Scotland network.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 3-7kW (Type 2 socket), 50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered)

How do you access the network? These electric car charging points can be located and paid for on an ad-hoc basis using the live map within ChargeYourCar's website app, or a membership card paid by direct debit. The network can also be accessed using the bp pulse app.

What does it cost? The electric car charging point cost is set by the hosts and is variable. Membership costs £20 per year.

More information: chargeyourcar.org.uk

ecar NI

How many electric car charging points? The government-led ecar project was founded in 2010 to support electric vehicle uptake in Northern Ireland. Its public network of EV charging stations is hosted by councils, government departments and health trusts, and comprises 150 twin-socket AC units and 17 rapid charge points.

Where are they? Northern Ireland.

Which speeds and connectors? 22kW (Type 2 socket), 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? These EV charging stations can be accessed using an RFID card, or the ecar Connect smartphone app, which can locate and control charge sessions. Membership is free.

What does it cost? Free.

More information: ecarni.com

Electric Highway

How many electric car charging points'the UK's original long-distance electric vehicle charging point network operates out of 330 locations, including almost all UK service stations and several city centre Ikea stores. Recently acquired by Gridserve, new 350kW ultra-fast units are due later this year.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? The Electric Highway app can recognise EV charging stations by a unique QR code, controlling charging sessions and issuing receipts. Free membership is required. Contactless payments will be enabled during 2021.

What does it cost? 30p/kWh.

More information: eh.ecotricity.co.uk

ESB Energy

How many electric car charging points? Irish utility company ESB has partnered with Transport for London, Coventry City Council and Birmingham City Council, installing 122 rapid EV charging stations on-street and in car parks in the three cities.

Where are they? London, Coventry and Birmingham.

Which speeds and connectors? 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? The EV Plug In smartphone app allows users to locate EV charging stations on a map and begin or end charge sessions by swiping left or right. Members get an access card. Most of the network also accepts contactless payments, but some units are reserved for taxis.

What does it cost? ESB provides three access options to electric car charging points:

  • Contactless payments cost 29p/kWh (30p/kWh in London) plus a 50p connection fee.
  • Charge sessions using the app cost 29p/kWh (30p/kWh in London) with no connection fee. Access cards are available for a one-off £10 payment.
  • Membership costs £4.99 per month, with a 12-month minimum contract. Usage costs 25p/kWh (28p/kWh in London).

More information: esbenergy.co.uk/ev

GeniePoint

How many electric car charging points? GeniePoint is a PAYG network comprising 360 rapid EV charging stations and 220 ?fast? chargers located in shopping centres, hotels and car parks.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 3.7-22kW (Type 2 socket) 50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? The electric car charging points are accessed and controlled using the GeniePoint smartphone app. RFID access cards are available with the optional, free, membership.

What does it cost? Rapid chargers incur a connection fee of £1.80 within the M25 or £1.00 elsewhere - for all other chargers this costs 50p per session. Energy costs are additional, and are 30p/kWh everywhere. A £10 fee applies after 90 minutes at rapid chargers, or four hours elsewhere.

More information: evsolutions.engie.co.uk

Gridserve Electric Forecourt

How many electric car charging points? Gridserve has plans for 100 ultra-fast charging Electric Forecourts by the mid-2020s, with space for work and refreshments while drivers top up. Its first site has 36 electric car charging points supplied with renewable energy, and a 6MWh battery is on-site to stabilise demand on the local grid.

Where are they? Braintree, Essex.

Which speeds and connectors? 350kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? Charging sessions are started and stopped using a contactless credit or debit card at all units. There are no membership options, keyfobs or apps.

What does it cost? 24p/kWh.

More information: gridserve.com

InstaVolt

How many electric car charging points? InstaVolt operates a network of 570 rapid EV charging stations in car parks, retail and leisure parks, forecourts and local authority properties.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 50-100kW (CCS/CHAdeMO tethered).

How do you access the network? Electric vehicle charging point sessions are started and stopped using a contactless credit or debit card, at all units. VAT receipts are available on request. There are no membership options, keyfobs or apps.

What does it cost? 35p/kWh

More information: instavolt.co.uk

Ionity

How many electric car charging points? Funded by a consortium of vehicle manufacturers, Ionity provides ultra-fast charging across Europe. There are 15 electric vehicle charging sites in the UK, located close to major routes.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 350kW (CCS tethered).

How do you access the network? Ionity takes payments via a website app, which scans a barcode from the EV charging station. There's no need for a membership, but registering for a free account allows payment details to be stored for subsequent charging sessions.

What does it cost? 69p/kWh

More information: ionity.eu

LiFE Network

How many electric car charging points? Franklin Energy's LiFE network comprises more than 460 electric car charging points, located on-street, in city centre and train station car parks, and at destinations including hotels, golf courses and hospitals.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 7-22kW (Type 2 socket), 50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered)

How do you access the network? Its EV charging stations can be located using the LiFE EV smartphone app, which also handles billing and controls charging sessions. Franklin Energy provides an RFID card for tap-and-go access, and its 50kW rapid chargers in Sheffield accept contactless payments. It also has roaming agreements with partners including NewMotion, ChargePlace Scotland and Plug Surfing, and several fuel card suppliers, which enable users to access the network.

What does it cost? The electric car charging cost varies by location, ranging from 25p/kWh to 30p/kWh.

More information: franklinenergy.co.uk

NewMotion

How many electric car charging points? Shell-owned NewMotion operates 3,300 electric car charging points in the UK, located at car parks and shopping centres and linked to a pan-European network boosted by more than 200 roaming partners.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 7-22kW (Type 2 socket), 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? The NewMotion app enables drivers to locate EV charging stations and begin charge sessions, including those owned by roaming partners ? a network spanning 200,000 units in 35 countries across Europe. In the UK, it partners with 17 networks, including Shell Recharge and lamp post charging provider Char.gy. Charge points can also be accessed using the NewMotion chargecard or Shell fuel card.

What does it cost? Variable depending on location. Up to 20 transactions per month.

More information: newmotion.com/en

Osprey Charging

How many electric car charging points? Formerly known as Enginie, Osprey has 221 rapid EV charging stations at destinations including car parks, supermarkets and retail sites.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? Its electric car charging points can be located and sessions started using the Osprey Charging app, which also provides monthly billing and VAT receipts for account holders. Access is also provided via the Shell Recharge app, Newmotion, Plugsurfing and Allstar One Electric fuel card. All units have contactless payment capabilities.

What does it cost? Excluding the network's oldest units (which have a £6 flat rate to charge), there are three payment options:

  • Contactless payments cost 36p/kWh
  • Payments using the app cost 31p/kWh
  • Members pay £5 per month, which reduces charging costs to 25p/kWh

More information: ospreycharging.co.uk

Pod Point Network

How many electric car charging points? Pod Point has 4,200 electric car charging points located where drivers stop for several hours at a time, including shopping centres, hotels and tourist attractions.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 3.6-22kW (Type 2 socket), 43-50kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? All Pod Point EV chargers have a unique name, which can be searched for within the company's own smartphone app. This requires a free account, but enables drivers to control and pay for charging sessions. Contactless payments are accepted at most of its rapid EV charging stations.

What does it cost? Costs are set by the host. Around 70% of the network is free to access.

More information: pod-point.com

Shell Recharge

How many electric car charging points? Launched in 2017, Shell Recharge has 100 rapid electric car charging points on fuel forecourts, run on 100% certified renewable electricity.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 50-175kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? The Shell Recharge app shows locations with real-time availability and pricing, and enables drivers to control charging sessions and monitor usage. The app and Shell Recharge card also provide access to 200,000 EV charging stations across Europe, working with roaming partners. All units accept contactless payments.

What does it cost? 41p/kWh.

Source London

How many electric car charging points? Founded as one of six local Plugged-in Places schemes, Source London operates more than 1,500 electric car charging points, mostly located alongside on-street parking spaces.

Where are they? 23 boroughs across Greater London.

Which speeds and connectors? 7.4kW or 22kW (Type 2 socket)

How do you access the network? Source London's electric car charging points are accessed by scanning a QR code using the smartphone app or website browser. Optional membership includes an RFID card, and the ability to reserve chargepoints up to 40 minutes in advance through the app. This costs £2 per reservation.

What does it cost? Costs vary by charging speed and membership level.

  • Pay-as-you-go costs 7p/min for 7kW or 14.3p/min for 22kW chargers
  • Flexi access costs 5.9p/min for 7kW or 11.9p/min for 22kW chargers (plus a £10 one-off fee)
  • Full members pay 3.6p/min for 7kW or 9.5p/min for 22kW chargers (plus a £4 monthly membership fee)

More information: sourcelondon.net

Tesla

How many electric car charging points? Tesla operates two charging networks in the UK. There are 550 ?Destination? chargers at hotels, shopping centres and tourist locations, and 624 'supercharger? units, most of which are alongside the strategic road network.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 7-22kW (Destination, Type 2 tethered), 120-250kW (Supercharger, Type 2/CCS tethered).

How do you access the network? Tesla cars communicate with the EV charging point, so begin charging automatically. Charge sessions can be monitored using the smartphone app.

What does it cost? Superchargers cost between 26p/kWh and 28p/kWh. Most Destination chargers are provided free for patrons.

More information: tesla.com

Ubitricity

How many electric car charging points? Shell subsidiary Ubitricity has 3,500 on-street electric car charging points, integrated into bollards and lamp posts.

Where are they? Mostly London and the South East, and around Liverpool.

Which speeds and connectors? 3.7-11kW (Type 2 socket).

How do you access the network? Each charger has a QR code, recognised by Ubitricity's web and smartphone apps, and these also handle credit or debit card payments. A free account enables usage tracking. Local residents without off-street parking can opt for a SmartCable with a built-in electricity meter, which enables them to plug in and charge, and provides monthly billing.

What does it cost? PAYG access costs 24p/kWh. The SmartCable costs £299 plus a monthly £7.99 membership fee and reduces charging costs to 16.2p/kWh (plus a 19p plug-in fee at the start of the charge session).

More information: ubitricity.co.uk

VendElectric

How many electric car charging points? Vendelectric has 700 EV charging points, with locations including tourist destinations, public car parks, shopping centres and train stations.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 3.6-22kW (Type 2 socket), 43-200kW (CCS/CHAdeMO/Type 2 tethered).

How do you access the network? Charging and payments are processed via the Vendelectric website or smartphone app. Each charging socket has a unique identity and QR code, which can be entered manually or scanned using the device's camera. Signing up for an account stores bank details for future transactions.

What does it cost? Prices are set by chargepoint hosts and vary.

More information: vendelectric.com

ZeroNet

How many electric car charging points? ZeroNet's EV charging stations are donated by Zero Carbon World, a charity aiming to improve the provision of charging infrastructure. There are almost 700 in the UK, located at accommodation, restaurants, tourist and leisure facilities.

Where are they? Nationwide.

Which speeds and connectors? 7.4kW (Type 2 socket).

How do you access the network? As long as you?ve got the host's permission, you can just plug in and start charging. There is no app, card or membership option.

What does it cost? Some are free for customers and visitors, otherwise Zero Carbon World advises hosts not to charge users more than they would for services such as Wi-Fi.

More information: zerocarbonworld.org

Published at 17 June 2021
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17 June 2021
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