Revealed: The best and worst EV charging networks in the UK

Date Posted 14th December 2021
Read Time 3 min read

2021 has not only seen a remarkable growth in the number of new electric vehicles on the road but the charging infrastructure that supports them, and UK electric car drivers have revealed their least and most popular EV charging networks.

Ranked by Zap-Map, the UK’s leading electric vehicle mapping service, and based on feedback from over 3,000 respondents, it is the most established and comprehensive survey of EV drivers in the UK.

As part of the survey, respondents rated their overall satisfaction for the networks they use regularly based on four key areas: reliability, ease of use, cost and facilities.

There are now close to 30,000 electric car charging points in the UK, with a variety of new networks entering the market, a high growth in ultra-rapid chargers, the installation of charging hubs across the country and the growth of options for on-street charging. Looking forward to next year, all these trends are expected to continue with a high level of infrastructure investment committed by many networks.

In first place overall this year is InstaVolt. The rapid charging network scored particularly highly for reliability and ease of use, securing its ‘Best EV Charging Network’ badge and ensuring it offers the best electric car charging points in the UK.

Network stats:

  • 580 rapid charging devices and more than 70 ultra-rapid devices
  • 2nd largest rapid network after bp pulse (and Tesla)
  • Find InstaVolt devices at Costa, KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds as well as retail parks, gyms and service stations

Feedback highlighted the reliability of the InstaVolt chargers as well as the simple pay-as-you-go access provided through contactless payment. Respondents to the survey described InstaVolt devices as “very reliable at locations I am happy to spend time at” and “the best.” Others highlighted the network as “my go-to charger,” although perhaps the pithiest description is this one: “Expensive but always works.”

In last place is Ecotricity’s Electric Highway. Though it was bought by Gridserve in 2020, and work is underway to upgrade Ecotricity’s old sites, it has been separated out as it is still the legacy Ecotricity Electric Highway experience.

As well as having the lowest overall ranking, the legacy Ecotricity’s Electric Highway also came last for reliability and ease of use for the second year running making it one of the worst electric car charging points in the UK.

Network stats:

  • 96 rapid charging devices and 13 fast devices mainly located at motorway service stations

Survey respondents commented that legacy Ecotricity Electric Highway devices were “highly variable and usually only one CCS connector, which causes queues,” and also “unreliable and not enough of them.” Others emphasised that they are “not fast enough,” with customer service issues also arising around the network’s app and helpline.

Zap-Map user ratings for public EV charging networks in the UK:

Zap-Map electric car charging points uk
Zap-Map electric car charging points uk

Melanie Shufflebotham, Co-founder & 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.”