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Who are the public charging companies and what do they offer?
The number of companies offering charging services for electric cars is growing all the time. We list information on the biggest providers...
Formerly BP Chargemaster and Polar, BP Pulse is the UK’s largest provider of public charging points. It has more than 7000 of them around the UK, ranging from three-pin, 3kW units to a number of ultra-fast 150kW chargers. It operates a subscription-based service and a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) option. The former gives subscribers free charging at around half of its units and cheaper kWh rates than PAYG customers at those where they have to pay.
It charges an overstay fee of £10 per hour after 90 minutes of charging at 50kW and 150kW chargers.
Charge Your Car
One of the UK’s biggest players, with more than 2000 chargers. The chargers are only installed by Charge Your Car; they’re owned by those in charge of the location, who are free to set their own tariffs. Typically, fast chargers in the South East have a 50p connection fee then cost 20p per kWh, while rapid chargers cost around £1.50 to connect then 30p per kWh. There is an optional £20 registration fee, and if you pay this in order to get a charging card, the first charge will be far more costly than subsequent ones. Outside London, local authority-owned sites typically have a £1 connection fee and are then free to use.
Operates a network of around 400 lamp-post units, most with a capacity of up to 7.4kWh. The monthly subscription is pricey for slow charging and you’d need to charge up our Volkswagen ID.3 more than four times to cover the cost of the monthly fee.
It also offers a monthly subscription for £38.99, which includes 200kWh of charging. This would provide enough electricity for a BMW iX3 to do around 800 miles a month, equating to a cost of 19.5p per kWh. It would work out more expensive for lower-mileage drivers, though.
Its Electric Highway network provides around 300 rapid chargers at most motorway services around the UK. It’s also expanding its network onto A-roads. All of its chargers are currently 43kW or 50kW units – so not as powerful as some of the latest ones – but it’s planning to introduce ultra-rapid chargers. The longest you can charge in one sitting is 45 minutes. The cost of electricity is halved for those who sign up for its green home electricity too. There’s no free charging unless the unit is broken.
Operates a number of networks with a total of 1100 charge points. Its Solutions network operates in London and Coventry and has a subscription service, pay as you go and contactless options. PAYG customers can pay for charging up front using a pre-payment card, which needs to be topped up with £10 to get started. There’s no free charging.
Operates a national network of around 150 fast and rapid chargers. You don’t have to register to use them.
Currently has 13 locations around the UK, with more in the works, as part of a pan-European ultra-rapid charging network, with 350kW chargers at 100-mile intervals along the major motorway networks.
Has around 200 rapid charging points across the UK. It has no sign-up fee or connection fee. No free chargers, though.
Operates a network of around 3000 charging points on 1000 units, offering a range of charging speeds. You’ll find its chargers in local locations, including Lidl and Tesco car parks.
Rapid charging network with around 150 charge points at fuel stations. No fees other than per kWh, but no free chargers.
Has more than 1500 chargers in and around the capital; some are free for customers with an RFID card to access them. It has a monthly subscription service called Full, a PAYG called Flexi with a one-off £10 up-front fee and a second PAYG without an up-front fee but higher kWh rates.
Has a network of around 150 rapid chargers. Formerly known as Engenie. No free charging, but four locations have a fixed fee of £6.
Its dedicated network consists of ‘destination chargers’ – typically 22kW – which are located at places such as hotels and are free to use, as well as the 500-strong Supercharger network of 120kW or 150kW rapid chargers, mainly located at motorway services. These are free to use for Teslas first registered before 15 January 2017 but cost 25p per kWh for newer cars.
One of the UK’s largest networks with more than 2500 charging points installed on roadside lamp posts and bollards.
UK's first EV only service station
The UK’s first dedicated electric car service area opened in December 2020, near Braintree in Essex. Instead of rows of petrol and diesel pumps, the EV forecourt, which is just off the A131, has 36 charging points, including six Tesla Superchargers. Twelve of the other chargers are capable of operating at up to 350kW, so they can add 200 miles of range to a car in as little as 20 minutes. Charging costs a flat rate of 24p per kWh and energy is generated from solar panels in a field not far from the forecourt.
There is a phone next to every charger that can be used to call a dedicated helpline manned by EV experts from the AA. The site has a two-storey building with shops and cafes on the ground floor and an airport-style lounge upstairs with business meeting room pods and a wellbeing area. The facility has free superfast wi-fi. There’s also a sales and leasing centre for EVs.
The Braintree site is part of operator Grid Serve’s plan to build a UK-wide network of 100 or more EV-only forecourts over the course of the next five years.
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