Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle on the road?
It depends where you plug in. Chargepoints are typically installed based on the sort of stops drivers make at those locations. The most common types are as follows:
- Slow chargers tend to be where drivers stop for several hours, such as shops, hotels and city centre car parks. These add up to 30 miles of range per hour of charging, depending on the vehicle.
- Rapid chargers are usually located at service stations and rest areas close to motorways and A-roads. They’re designed for a short refill while drivers take a break, usually adding around 100 miles of range in half an hour. Some of the latest ‘ultra-rapid’ chargers can add 120 miles in ten minutes for compatible vehicles, though not many offer this yet.
Click here to read more about public chargepoints.
Does the UK have enough chargepoints?
The UK has one of the world’s most advanced chargepoint networks, and it’s growing all the time. There are almost 25,000 units in the UK, many of which can charge more than one vehicle at the same time. Most major routes are also well served by ‘rapid’ chargers, which are located at service stations and rest stops near motorways and A-roads. In England, the average distance between rapid chargers is just 25 miles.
Aren’t there lots of different charging connectors?
No. The European Commission set the Type 2 connector as the standard for Europe in 2013. Most manufacturers now use this for their vehicles, and charging points typically have a Type 2 socket as well. Similar to a USB port, this means vehicles can be plugged in regardless of what socket they have on board.
Rapid chargers are slightly different, as these have thicker and often water-cooled cables which are tethered to the unit itself. Again, there is a European standard (the Combined Charging System) used by most new cars, but chargepoints are usually fitted with several connectors compatible with the three most common standards.
Do you need lots of apps and membership cards?
Fewer than you would have a few years ago. All new rapid chargers should already offer payment via contactless credit or debit card, and a lot of slower units offer one-off payments without registering an account.
However, this is usually the most expensive way to charge. Many networks offer discounts for account holders, and store payment details to make it quicker to start a charging session. Some memberships and fuel card providers also offer ‘roaming’ capability, which enables drivers to access and multiple networks with a single account. A few also offer international roaming.
A full guide to the UK’s public charging networks is available here.
Will I need a different charging cable if I go abroad?
Only if you’re charging from a domestic plug socket. Travel adaptors to convert a three-pin plug are not suitable for the sustained high currents needed for electric vehicle charging. However, the Type 2 connector is standard across Europe, so public chargepoints at destinations and rest areas will have the same socket or leads as in the UK.