As electric vehicle uptake grows in the UK, so does the need for EV charging suppliers to provide fast, easily accessible and conveniently-located electric car charging points.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest EV charging companies in the UK, their services and plans regarding the growing number of EV owners in the country.
Today, there are 31,507 EV charging points across 19,707 charging locations serving over 705,000 registered electric vehicles in the UK. They are located across the country at car parks, supermarkets, shopping centres, service stations and on the side of the road.
Most of them offer a combination of fast and rapid chargers, getting you 100 miles in about 30 minutes.
The EV charging providers have all taken a different approach to charger access with many using pay-as-you-go or subscription services, as well as app-based and contactless card-based chargers, activated by simply tapping your card.
The cost of recharging your electric car depends on the provider you choose, your car battery and the speed of the charging point, however, fees tend to range from 26p/kWh to 69p/kWh.
On average, a standard battery of 60 kWh would cost around £16.16 to charge, which is much lower than what petrol and diesel car owners pay—at an average of £1,000 annually, fuel is the highest cost involved in owning and driving a car in the UK.
Now that we covered the basics, here is a closer look at the UK’s leading public electric car charge point providers.
Tesla is one of the best-known and biggest electric car charging companies with a network of over 30,000 chargers worldwide.
Tesla is cheap, convenient and fast. While charging is not free for all Tesla owners, fees are quite affordable. On top of that, the Supercharger network can recharge up to 172 miles in a quarter of an hour without the need to order cards or download apps— your account details are stored in the car and you are billed automatically.
In addition to its vast Supercharger network, Tesla also provides 5,000+ Destination chargers. Although a bit slower, they are conveniently situated at restaurants and hotels where you can park, charge, and relax.
InstaVolt is not just one of the quickest and most dependable UK EV charging companies, it is also the highest-rated by users who particularly appreciate the company’s flat fee, easy payment methods and well-located charge points, found at popular locations like Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and Booths.
InstaVolt partners with ChargePoint UK (the largest global charging network) to deliver 50kW – 150kW charging to any electric car that is DC compatible. The only complaint is that it doesn’t have the most widespread network, but the company is well on its way to fixing this issue by introducing 10,000 rapid chargers by 2030.
One of the biggest EV charging manufacturers in the UK, Pod Point has produced over 137,000 charging points, in addition to running a huge public network of 6,200+ charging bays.
Pod Point has all the marks of a great EV charging company—it’s compatible with most electric vehicles, easy to use (plugin and confirm through the app) and affordable (15 minutes free charging is provided).
What’s more, you can find Pod Point chargers almost anywhere, from Heathrow and McDonald’s to Tesco and Lidl. The company is also rolling out bigger EV Zones that will feature more bays and provide even easier access for EV drivers.
GRIDSERVE now runs Electric Highway, the first national charging network globally. Founded in 1995, Electric Highway originally provided 7k kW charging.
Today, GRIDSERVE covers 85% of the country’s motorway network, providing super-fast 350 kW high power chargers able to deliver 100 miles in just 10 minutes. The company is also in the process of upgrading the entire network by replacing its existing charging points with dual chargers, thus doubling the number of vehicles being charged simultaneously.
Last but not least, GRIDSERVE is powered by renewable solar energy, providing a low-cost alternative to other, more highly-priced EV charging providers.
Like some of the other EV charging companies on this list, GeniePoint has recently merged with another network—ENGIE, a free-to-use West Yorkshire EV charging company. The combined networks are now run by EQUANS, offering private and public charging stations, as well as workplace and bespoke fleet charging solutions. They are also working on developing super-fast chargers with a power output of 100kW and over.
The company offers fast and rapid charging at over 600 conveniently-placed charging points nationwide, including parks, fuel forecourts and main roads. What’s more, GeniePoint partners with one of the most affordable supermarkets in the UK, Morrisons, providing charging points at over 250 Morrisons supermarkets.
In December 2020, after acquiring the Polar and Chargemaster networks, BP rebranded its EV charge point service to bp pulse. Although it has a new name, bp pulse has been in the electric vehicle charging market for over a decade.
It is one of the largest electric car charging companies in the country, boasting over 1,200 rapid charging points. It is also incredibly convenient to use since it has locations nearly everywhere and offers plenty of payment methods, from memberships to contactless payments, so you can charge your car at the best rates or even get free charging at certain locations.
Osprey may be one of the smallest electric car charging networks on the list, but its 300+ rapid charge points are strategically located in city centres and near major trunk roads.
Osprey is also the first EV charging company in the country to offer Zap-Pay, Zap-Map’s app-based payment system, in addition to other payment methods, such as ApplePay, RFID cards, and the Osprey app.
Another UK-first for Osprey—the company is introducing revolutionary tech that will allow their charging hubs to host up to 12 rapid chargers on a single site. The ground-breaking technology will be used in the 150 EV charging hubs Osprey will launch over the next four years.
Ionity is an EV charging company founded by some of the biggest car manufacturers. It specializes in ultra-fast charging, being able to deliver up to 350kW and full charging in under 10 minutes, which, sadly, only a handful of electric cars in the UK can use right now.
The company has charging locations in 24 countries across Europe and is planning to install a total of 7,000 charging stations on the Continent by 2025—ideal for anyone who travels abroad frequently. However, Ionity’s fees are a bit steep, with a Direct plan that comes out to £0.69/ kWh and a subscription monthly fee of £16.99.
Shell Recharge may have a long way to go to compete with Tesla and Pod Point, but the company has dedicated a lot of resources to its EV charging network, which is evident in high user ratings for performance, dependability, and ease of use.
Powered by renewable sources, Shell Recharge has a growing network of ultra-fast 175 kW and 70 kW rapid chargers located mainly in forecourts across the UK and Europe. Access is granted through the Shell Recharge app or Shell Charge Card, which can also be used to charge your vehicle at over 300 other operators in Europe, including Ionity and ubitricity.
Fast pay-as-you-go recharging
Number of public charging points: 600+
Payment methods: RFID Access Card
Fees ranging from: 15p/ kWh–25p/kWh+£1 connection fee
Unlike other electric vehicle charging companies, Charge Your Car does not own charging stations. It provides access to drivers on behalf of EV charger manufacturers in the UK instead, which makes it significantly cheaper than the competition.
Charging speed (from 7 to 50 kW) is not that impressive, but the CYC network is incredibly convenient to use.
Charging stations are easy to find on the live map or the CYC app, and they are conveniently located in shopping malls or town centres. Payment is also straightforward; you can order an RFID Access Card and enjoy the full benefits of the company’s pay-as-you-go system.
ChargePlace Scotland, the country’s national EV charging network, is developed and run by the Scottish Government. On a mission to make EV charging available to drivers throughout the country, ChargePlace Scotland has grown its network from only 55 public charge points in 2013 to more than 2,100 in 2022.
The company, offering a maximum of 150 kW of charging power, cannot boast the speeds of Ionity or the payment options of bppulse. It does provide convenience and reliability, though. Plus, ChargePlace Scotland has a wide range of fees, starting from as low as 12p per kWh, as well as free charging at several locations across the country.
ESB Energy, an Irish company operating in Britain since 1993, mainly focuses on the generation of renewable energy but also has a growing EV charging network or rapid chargers, currently available in London, Coventry, and Birmingham.
The company offers simple payment methods, allowing EV drivers to pay through the app, Zap-Pay, as well as credit and debit cards.
It may not have the best coverage, but ESB Energy is one of the car charging companies heavily invested in expanding its public charging infrastructure. Over the next two years, ESB Energy plans on adding nearly 200 fast and rapid chargers to its fast-growing network.
Apart from being safer for the environment (reducing CO2 and noise pollution), there are other benefits to driving an electric vehicle:
Other benefits include free parking at certain locations, no congestion charge in Clean Air Zones and, according to many users, much better handling, comfort and safety than diesel and petrol cars.
What do the biggest EV charging companies in the UK have in common? Nearly all of them offer easy-to-use and reliable chargers conveniently located near supermarkets, public roads and forecourts, which clearly shows the most important considerations for EV drivers in the country.
It also shows the top priorities smaller and emerging EV charging suppliers should focus on as they try to get a foothold in the market.
Electric car prices range from £17,350 up to £138,826, depending on the model. You can use the same financing options available to fuel car owners (personal loan, personal contract purchase, hire purchase). You would also need to have a good credit score to get approved for a car loan, as well as show proof of income and employment status.
This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charger. A typical 60 kWh battery would charge from empty to full in nearly 8 hours, although EV drivers tend to top up their battery rather than recharge it from empty to full.
So, if you are using a rapid charger, you could top up your battery and get 100 miles in around 30 minutes. Luckily all of the biggest EV charging companies in the UK have extensive networks of rapid charging points.
Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.