What's the cheapest way to top up your car's batteries?

It is still possible to charge up your electric car without burning a hole in your wallet. Here's how.....

True cost of charging

According to EV information website Zap-Map, there are 21,068 public chargers in the UK, of which 3908 are rapid chargers and 11 are ultra-rapid. If you don’t mind using one of the slower options, you should still be able to charge for free or a minimal fee. Pod Point and Source London are among the larger companies that offer free charging (in some cases after a small initial fee) at certain locations. 

It’s also worth investigating which smaller public charging companies are operating in your area. The Energise network only has a small number of charging points in southeast England, but once you’ve paid a £1 connection fee, its units are free to use. Kent County Council also has a small number of chargers available on the same basis. There are similar options in many parts of the UK. 

Another low-cost option is the ZeroNet network, which is run by the Zero Carbon World charity. Chargers are mostly in the car parks of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality industry locations, and many businesses offer free charging for customers, although parking charges might be payable while the charger is in use.

True cost of going electric

Potentially the cheapest way to charge away from home is to use the Zap-Home and Zap-Work network of chargers; the former are at EV owners’ homes and the latter on the premises of small businesses. Coverage is good all over the UK and the chargers can be used by anyone who’s registered with Zap-Map. Many are free, and those that aren’t free cost £3 to £5 per charge. 

New code of practice for home charger installers

The Electric Vehicle Consumer Code for Home Chargepoints (EVCC) is a code of practice that’s been introduced for companies installing EV chargers to consumers. It has been designed to ensure that manufacturers, suppliers and installers of home chargers meet specific high standards so that consumers can have the confidence to use them for installation. 

EVCC logo

Companies signing up to the EVCC commit to no-pressure selling techniques and a high level of customer service and aftersales care. If a customer has a problem with an EVCC-registered company, they can go through a formal complaint process and use a free mediation service provided by Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd, which is a non-profit organisation with experience in operating codes of conduct for renewable energy companies. 

Car insurance for electric cars

LV is the first mainstream car insurer to offer a policy specifically for owners of electric vehicles. 

The policy includes a roadside recharging service in case your car runs out of juice anywhere in the UK (courtesy of a tie-up with specialist assistance provider AFF) or free recovery to the nearest charging point. Using these services won’t affect your no-claims discount. 

The policy also provides accidental damage, fire and theft cover for your car’s battery pack, plus your charging cables, wallbox and adapters. 

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