The UK’s best and worst public EV chargers revealed

Public providers ranked by electric car owners for reliability, cost and ease of use

Monday, 13th December 2021, 10:48 am
<p>(Image: Zap-Map)</p>

(Image: Zap-Map)

The best and worst public charging networks have been named in a new driver satisfaction survey by one of the UK’s leading EV authorities.

Instavolt, which is one of the country’s biggest rapid charging networks was named the best overall provider by motorists while the old Ecotricity Electric Highway network once again propped up the bottom of the table.

The rankings from Zap-Map, based on EV driver feedback, assessed the country’s 18 main public charging networks, ranking them for reliability, ease of use, cost and facilities.

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With a rating of 4.4 out of five, Instavolt improved on its second place in 2020 to be voted the best overall service in 2021.

The network, which has 650 rapid and ultra-rapid charging points, was praised for its ease of use and reliability of its units. Drivers don’t need a subscription to use Instavolt points and can, instead, simply tap and pay with any debit or credit card.

It also scored well for its facilities, helped by partnerships which have seen many chargers installed next to Costa Coffee, Starbucks, KFC and McDonalds outlets.

Despite recently increasing its prices to 45p per kWh, the network was also ranked sixth for cost.

MFG EV Power, a new entrant in the market, was ranked second, with an overall score of 4.2 out of five.

The network, which is owned by the UK’s largest independent forecourt operator and has installed chargers at existing filling stations, has relatively few locations but plans to invest £400 million in building an additional 3,000 ultra-rapid chargerss.

Like Instavolt, MFG EV Power was rated highly for the reliability and ease of use of its 95 devices, scoring second in both categories. It was also praised by drivers for its facilities, thanks to the siting of most of its chargers at existing forecourts.

Osprey held onto its third spot in the table with a score of four out of five, coming behind the top two for reliability and ease of use and finishing a joint sixth on price. It was ranked fifth for its facilities, with many of its chargers located at pubs or restaurants through its partnership with hospitality chain Marston’s.

The “legacy” Ecotricity Electric Highway network was once again rated the country’s worst public charging provider, slammed by motorists for its unreliable and hard-to-use chargers.

The two out of five rating only applies to old chargers on the network which have not yet been upgraded.

Gridserve (which finished joint fifth) took control of the Electric Highway network in June and has upgraded most of it with newer units. However around 100 of the original Ecotricity devices are still in operation along the motorway network and continued to frustrate drivers with their slow speeds, lack of connecter options and general unreliability.

Second from last was Charge Your Car, with a score of 2.4 out of five. The network, which is owned by bp pulse was criticised for frequently broken chargers, slow maintenance response, “patchy” customer service and poor facilities. It was also ranked eighth for price, reflecting the fact that device hosts can set their own prices.

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Charge Your Car’s parent company bp pulse was only one place better in the rankings, which scored 2.5 out of five.

The network was one of the first created in the UK and is now the country’s third largest in terms of devices. However, drivers said that the older hardware was becoming unreliable and maintenance and customer support were not up to a good standard.

Melanie Shufflebotham, co-founder and COO at Zap-Map, said: “Despite significant changes over the course of the year, there are some things that remain the same. EV drivers are clear about the factors that make for a good charging experience, namely reliability and ease of use – and these should be key priorities for the UK’s public charging networks.

“The Zap-Map survey shows that while this is being delivered by some, others are falling short and there needs to be improvement. As we move from the early adopters towards mass EV adoption, making public charging simple becomes more important than ever.”

EV sales continue to soar, with new registrations up 110% in November compared with last year. They now account for 19% of all new cars registered in the country.

However, the UK’s motor industry body has warned that without rapid and widespread investment, the public charging network is at risk of being overwhelmed and damaging public confidence in electric vehicles.