Petrol stations are fast becoming a thing of the past. As EV uptake gathers pace, many familiar names such as Shell and BP have found their new home on kerbside charging stations.
But these are not the only big players in the electric car charging industry. Ubitricity, Ecotricity and Pod Point are just some of the soon-to-be household names. In this post we take a look at the best electric car changing companies right now, the EV charger types they use, the speeds they offer, and the prices you can expect to pay for each of their services.
Before jumping in, if you’re considering buying an electric car, we’ve written some helpful guides to help you learn about charging, including:
- How to charge an electric car
- How long does it take to charge an electric car
- How much does it cost to charge an electric car
Tesla charging stations come in two main varieties. The most well-known is the Tesla Supercharger network. These can be found along the UK’s motorway network and are designed to get you back on the road within half an hour - if you drive a Tesla.
Tesla has previously suggested it could open up the Supercharger network to other EV owners in the future, provided other manufacturers comply with Tesla’s legal requirements.
More recently, Tesla appears to have changed its tune on the issue of exclusivity in Norway, where it plans to allow other EV owners to make use of the network in exchange for Government incentives.
The second type of charging station Tesla offers is called ‘Destination’. These can be found at hotels and shopping centres across the country, and while they won’t offer the same charging speeds as a Supercharger, they will allow you to charge for free.
- Tesla Supercharger PAYG: £0.28/kWh, or free if you own an early Tesla Model X/S
- Supercharger Subscription: N/A
- Charger Type: DC Rapid Charging
- Tesla Destination cost: Free (however, parking charges may apply)
- Tesla Destination Subscription: N/A
- Charger Type: AC Slow/Fast Charging
2. Pod Point
Pod Point offers an expansive network of chargepoints across the UK. You’ll find Pod Point charging stations at many of your favourite supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi), hotels (Hilton, Travelodge, Holiday Inn) and restaurants (McDonald’s).
There’s no need to have a subscription and you won’t need an RFID card either - just your phone and an internet connection. If you’re struggling to get a signal, Pod Point chargers provide a 15 minute grace period for you to get connected and confirm that you’re plugged in and ready to go.
- Pod Point PAYG: Free, or ‘fair pricing’, per hour, or kWh.
- Pod Point Subscription: N/A
- Payment Methods: Visa, Visa Debit, Mastercard, AMEX, Apple Pay via Pod Point App
- Charger Type: AC Slow/Fast Charging, DC Rapid
‘InstaVolt’ - it does exactly what it says on the tin. At just over 600 stations nationwide, it’s certainly not the largest network. Nor is it the cheapest. But that doesn’t matter - InstaVolt’s three-step rapid charging solution is not only blazingly fast, but tops the tables for reliability, too.
If you’re a fleet owner, you can easily track your drivers’ spending with individually assigned RFID cards and transparent reporting.
- InstaVolt PAYG: £0.40/kWh
- InstaVolt Subscription: N/A
- Payment Methods: Contactless-enabled debit or credit cars, InstaVolt app, RFID cards (for fleet drivers)
- Charger Types: DC Rapid
Osprey may be one of the smaller charging networks, but its recent name change suggests it’s about to take to new heights. It’s also the first network to feature ‘Zap-Pay’, Zap-Map’s new app-based payment system.
Osprey has a simple aim: quick and simple rapid charging. It’s not quite as simple as it was, however, as now they offer three different tariffs. If you’re not going to be using their chargers often enough to justify a subscription, you’ll be pleased to know that all you have to do to be eligible for the cheaper, non-subscription tariff, is download and use the app to pay.
- Osprey Standard PAYG: £0.36/kWh
- Osprey App: £0.31/kWh
- Osprey Subscription: £0.25/kWh + £5 per month
- Payment Methods: Contactless, app, monthly billing
- Charger Types: DC Rapid
5. Shell Recharge
With little over 100 charging stations installed nationwide, Shell Recharge has a long way to go before it can achieve market dominance in the electric car charging sector.
That said, Shell has favoured ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’. All of its charging stations offer at least 50kWh DC rapid charging, with just under half of them classified as ‘ultra-rapid’ 150kWh DC chargers. Unfortunately, this is also reflected in the price.
If it makes you feel any better, Shell proudly states that their Recharge stations are ‘supplied with electricity from 100% renewable sources’.
- Shell Recharge PAYG: £0.41/kWh
- Shell Subscription: N/A
- Payment Methods: Contactless, Shell Recharge app
- Charger Types: DC Rapid: Type 2, CHAdeMO, CCS
6. ESB Energy
ESB Energy is a provider of rapid charging solutions located primarily in London and Coventry.
The network provides both taxi-only and public charging stations, which can be accessed using either Zap-Map’s ‘Zap-Pay’ app, the ESB app, or using an RFID card.
- ESBenergy PAYG: £0.29/kWh
- ESBenergy Subscription: £0.25/kWh + £4.99 per month
- ESBenergy Taxi: £0.25/kWh
- Payment Methods: Contactless, monthly subscription
- Charger Types: DC Rapid
7. BP Pulse (previously Polar)
Following their acquisition of the Polar and Chargemaster networks, BP rebranded their EV chargepoint offering as BP Pulse in December 2020. It might have a new name, but BP Pulse has over 10 years of experience in EV charging.
It also has over 8,000 public charging points, making it one of the largest networks at the time of writing. In addition to standard PAYG charging, they also offer a subscription package for owners of fleet vehicles, which lets you charge at their lowest prices, gain 24/7 support from in-house experts, and provides access to a centralised fleet management account.
They also offer home charging solutions which qualify for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provided by the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV).
- BP Pulse Contactless/Guest PAYG: £0.26/kWh (AC), £0.35/kWh, (43kW AC/ 50kW DC), £0.42/kWh (150kW DC)
- BP Pulse Free Membership: £0.20/kWh (AC), £0.29/kWh (43kW AC/ 50kW DC), £0.42/kWh (150kW DC)
- BP Pulse Subscription: £7.85/month (first 3 months free) + £0.20/kWh (AC), £0.29/kWh (43kW AC/ 50kW DC), £0.42/kWh (150kW DC)
- Additional Fees: £10 an hour overstay fee if you stay more than 90 minutes in a 50kW or 150kW charging bay.
- Payment Methods: Contactless (50kW, 150kW), app
Newmotion is also part of the Shell group. Unlike Shell Recharge, Newmotion also focuses on charging solutions for businesses, car manufacturers and leasing companies (you can find out more about electric car charging points for business, and whether you’re eligible for the Workplace Charging Scheme in our guide).
Newmotion also has over 7,000 available public charge points in the UK and over 200,000 across 35 different countries. You’ll be able to use all of these available charging points, though a transaction fee will occur to cover the cost of roaming.
Costs per charge vary considerably, even amongst slower chargers. For instance, according to my.newmotion.com, a 50kW rapid charge in Wigan costs just £0.26/kWh, while in Sheffield a much slower 7.4kWh fast charger costs £0.37/kWh. Appropriately, Newmotion advises that you find the chargepoint on the app beforehand and check the tariffs ‘to avoid surprises’.
- Newmotion Contactless PAYG: Variable prices
- Charger types: AC slow/fast, DC rapid
- Roaming/Connection Fee: £0.35
Ionity is another pan-European network, specialising in ulta-rapid EV charging. Ionity charging units are situated along the main UK motorways and provide speeds of up to 350kW with a CCS adapter.
If your car is equipped to handle this, Ionity suggests it can provide you with a full charge in as little as 8 minutes. Only a few cars in the UK are able to take advantage of this additional charging capacity and even then, most aren’t able to fully utilise it. The new Audi e-Tron GT is rated for 270kW while the latest Tesla Model S Plaid manages 250kW.
Unfortunately, Ionity charging stations also come with a hefty price tag, so you should probably use alternative rapid chargers if your car is not rated for charging above 150kW.
- Ionity PAYG App Payment: £0.69/kWh
- Charger Types: DC Rapid (CCS)
Engie entered the EV charging sector over a decade ago when it was known as ChargePoint Services. Since then, it’s launched its cloud-based back office software, the GeniePoint Network, which provides a simple, transparent pricing structure, with free membership or ‘guest’ pricing tiers.
It also provides bespoke fleet charging and workplace charging solutions for businesses.
- GeniePoint Guest: £0.39/kWh
- GeniePoint Member/Registered App User: £0.35/kWh
11. Electric Highway
Ecotricity's Electric Highway public charging network covers the vast majority of the UK’s motorway network and has recently been acquired by Gridserve, the company behind the revolutionary Electric Forecourt near Braintree, Essex.
Although the charging infrastructure is a little dated, customers who use Ecotricity’s ‘Fully Charged’ gas and electric bundle are eligible for a whopping 50% discount on charging costs.
- Electric Highway PAYG: £0.30/kWh
- Electric Highway with Ecotricity Fully Charged: £0.15/kWh
12. Gridserve (Electric Forecourt)
Gridserve’s first Electric Forecourt was opened near Braintree, Essex in December 2020. It’s the first of over 100 Electric Forecourts in the pipeline over the next five years, priced at £1bn in total.
Gridserve charge points are able to charge at a blisteringly fast 350kW and, unlike Ionity charge points, they don’t break the bank either.
If you were in any doubt of their green credentials, Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt is powered by a combination of Gridserve’s hybrid solar farms and a series of solar canopies located directly above the chargers. The 6MWh onsite battery helps to balance the grid and keep costs low.
- Gridserve PAYG: £0.24
- Charger Types: DC Rapid
13. ChargePlace Scotland
ChargePlace Scotland is Scotland’s national EV charging network. It’s owned and developed by the Scottish Government and aims to install EV charging stations everywhere from the Scottish borders to the Shetland Islands.
Once you’re a member of the network, you’ll be able to charge for free at most charge points. Just don’t expect to see the kinds of speeds you see with Ionity or Gridserve.
- ChargePlace Scotland PAYG: Free at most stations, with £20 annual RFID Access Card
- Charger Types: AC slow/fast, DC rapid
14. Source London
Source London offers over 1500 charging points across - you guessed it - London.
As London is a little busier than most cities, they operate in a slightly different manner. Rather than pulling into the nearest available charging station, you’re expected to book in advance (up to 40 minutes) using their website or mobile app. This means that when you reserve a charging point, you’re also reserving a parking bay, which can solve two problems at once.
Charging speeds don’t go above AC 22kw, but these are really designed for when you’re at work or out shopping. Bear in mind that all charging stations have a four hour cap and you’ll pay extra for charging within Central London (Camden, K&C and Westminster).
- Source London PAYG: 7p/minute (7.4kW), 14.3p/minute (22kW) +1.4p/minute Central London surcharge
- Source London Flexi: £10 one-off payment + 5.9p/minute (7.4kW), 11.9p/minute (22kW) +1.4p/minute Central London surcharge
- Source London Full: £4/month + 3.6p/minute (7.4kW), 9.5p/minute (22kW) +1.4p/minute Central London surcharge
- Source London Taxi: £4/month (first year free) + 30% discount
15. Charge Your Car (CYC)
Charge Your Car operates a network of electric car charging stations across the UK, including ChargePoint Scotland. Unlike other public networks, it doesn’t own the charging stations, but provides access to them on behalf of the owners.
Because tariffs are set by the unit owners and not CYC, prices can vary considerably - though you will still find some CYC charge points that are free to use. Charge points can be accessed either through the CYC app or using the CYC RFID card.
- CYC PAYG: Costs vary
- CYC Subscription: £20 per year RFID card
- Charger Types: AC slow/fast, DC Rapid
If there’s one thing this list highlights, it’s the variety of pricing models and charging speeds currently on offer. These are not suitable for every EV owner. For many, it’s simply not worth spending 69p/kWh at an Ionity charge point if their EV can’t utilise the extra charging capacity. That’s why it’s important to plan your journey accordingly. Why not try our electric car charging map to find the best and nearest charger to you?
Thinking of taking the plunge and getting an EV? Electric car technology is rapidly evolving so an electric car lease deal is a great idea to get behind the wheel without having to deal with a depreciating asset. You pay the cost of depreciation during your contract, hand the car back at the end of the contract, and get another brand new car with the latest technology.