Charging & range

The public charging network

There are almost 20,000 public charge point connectors across the UK – and it’s growing all the time.

How many? Probably a lot more than you think…

This may surprise you, but the UK’s public network of almost 20,000 public charging connectors is already one of the largest in Europe; whilst our network of almost 1,000 rapid chargers is the largest. Highways England’s intention is to ensure that 95% of the strategic road network will have a charging point every 20 miles, which will be rapid charging points wherever possible.

Charge Point Map

Charging away from home has never been easier

To ensure they’re as convenient and as accessible as possible, public charging points are at a number of strategic locations:

  • At service stations on motorways and other main trunk roads – 96% of motorway services already have rapid chargers, making longer journeys possible.
  • Destinations such as hotels, restaurants, leisure parks, station parking – where you are likely to be parked for at least a few hours, perfect for recharging.
  • Shopping centres, retail parks, high street and public carparks – giving the opportunity to easily top-up your charge whilst out and about.
  • Residential streets and parking areas – meaning those without off-street parking can still happily charge close to home.
  • Businesses and workplaces – providing charging for both staff and visitors.

How do I charge?

Some public charging points provide what’s called ‘open access’, meaning anyone can use them. You simply plug your car straight in and you’re charging in seconds – for free. This tends to be found at certain retailers, hotel chains and other destinations who see the value in offering their customers free unrestricted charging.

The majority of public charging points belong to one of the main network providers – you can find out more here. To make full use of their charging network, you may need either their contactless RFID card or mobile app, depending upon the provider; but with most of these chargepoints you will be able to turn up on the day and connect in the usual way with your car’s public charging point cable.

The costs for joining the various public charging networks vary.

Use our Charging Point Map to see which network a charging point belongs to.

Charge Point Map

One size fits all

The good news is that there’s an agreed standard for the sockets found on the latest charging points – all now using the universal ‘Type Two’ socket. That will fit the ‘Type Two’ connector found on the end of the charging cable that (usually) comes as standard with your electric car, so you should have no problem plugging-in to a public charging point.

Some of the very early charging points used different sockets (usually a domestic-style 3 pin 13 amp socket), but these are gradually being phased out.

It’s worth remembering that the charging socket found on your car could be one of three types, so if you are buying another charging cable you need to ensure you get the right one. If in doubt, your dealer will be able to help.

Rapid chargers don’t have sockets, but tethered cables that plug straight into your car (rather like a petrol pump; remember those?). Your car may have one of three different rapid charging sockets, so just use the cable that fits.

Charging speed

How quickly your car charges depends largely on how powerful the charging unit is, together with the charging capabilities and battery capacity of the particular vehicle. There’s therefore not an exact answer that applies to all, but as a general rule there are three charging speeds for pure electric cars:

  • Rapid charging units (43, 50, or 120kW) could charge up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Fast charging points (7-22kW) can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours. The majority of public points are fast chargers.
  • Slow charging points (up to 3kW) are used for longer charging times, around 6-10 hours, depending upon the car. This applies mainly to some homecharge and workplace units.

Free parking?

In some areas, electric cars and vans are able to park for free (or at a reduced rate) whilst they are charging, which can be a very welcome benefit to your journey. This varies by region and is not available in all areas. Please check with your local authority for details.

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