Best electric car chargepoint providers 2021/2022
Public electric car chargers are an essential part of the electric car ownership experience and Driver Power has revealed the best networks in the UK today
As the switchover to electric vehicles gathers pace, it’s increasingly important that consumers have access to the best information. That includes insight into the public electric car charging infrastructure provided by the leading chargepoint operators, and as usual the Driver Power Survey delivers.
With feedback from real customers who have already experienced the public charging network, the survey highlights the best and worst performers in the eyes of their users. Plus, this year we’ve expanded the survey to include questions on important factors such as lighting and security at charging stations, reliability, prices and customer service levels.
So if you’re new to the world of EVs and public charging, our ratings provide a great insight into what you might expect from a variety of key brands in the sector. Equally,
if you’re already a chargepoint user, could you be getting a better service elsewhere?
How the scores work
We asked EV and plug-in hybrid owners to rank each public chargepoint provider in a range of key areas. We told customers to rate their satisfaction with prices, charging speed and ease of use, as well as the location, presentation and reliability of chargepoints. We also asked for feedback on customer service levels and smartphone apps used to access networks. Just as with our Driver Power new-car survey, the scores were used to calculate each firm’s position overall.
The UK’s best public electric car chargepoint providers
9. Ecotricity (now Gridserve)
Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network of 162 sites was sold to Gridserve earlier this year, and if a major investment in new infrastructure bears fruit, the network will surely hope for a stronger result next year.
As things stand, the 2021 results indicate that change was overdue, with rankings in all of our categories showing Ecotricity customers had a dim view of much of its operation – at least compared with the more impressive ratings awarded to its competitors. Along with many EV drivers, we’ll be watching closely to see what happens in 2022.
Overall score 66%
Ease of use:
How many chargers:
8. BP Pulse/Polar/Chargemaster
BP fast-tracked into the chargepoint sector when it bought Chargemaster in 2018, instantly giving the oil giant the UK’s biggest tally of charging stations, with over 6,500 public plug-in points.
That has now grown to 8,000, but as our survey shows, size isn’t everything, with customers ranking BP Pulse locations in a lowly eighth place. The best feedback comes in the charging speed category where users ranked it fifth, but pricing came in at sixth, while reliability, lighting and security, presentation and the app are all well off the pace of the best.
Overall score 68%
7. ChargePlace Scotland
Owned by the Scottish government, ChargePlace Scotland is rated very highly for its pricing, which reflects its vision of improving accessibility to electric cars.
With over 2,500 chargepoints, the network also scores decently for locations, but there’s not much else for the set-up to crow about. The worst customer service rating in the table, the lowest score for lighting and security at sites, and eighth places for reliability and presentation/condition paint a less-than-uplifting picture. The smartphone apps aren’t rated as highly as rivals’ either.
Overall score 68%
“Our charging points are always in safe, well lit places”, says the Osprey website, and a fifth place in the relevant category is the network’s highest Driver Power result.
Osprey also finishes fifth for customer service, but it’s downhill after that, with a bottom ranking for locations and charging speed, and a disappointing eighth place for prices. Ease of use and reliability are a little off the pace, but Osprey recently announced 150 high-output charging hubs, 10 of which should be finished this year, and which may help to raise some of the scores in Driver Power 2022.
Overall score 69%
5. Pod Point
Pod Point runs an impressive number of chargepoints, with more than 5,200 in a range of retail sites and car park locations. It’s rolling out new larger EV Zones with multiple bays for easier access, too.
While it ranks fifth overall, customers seem pretty happy with Pod Point charges and a slick app, but are less impressed by the charging speeds and customer service. The security and lighting of its locations aren’t rated highly next to rivals either, even though it has chargers at Tesco, Lidl and Center Parcs. Reliability rates a reasonable fourth place, though.
Overall score 74%
This provider operates a large number of chargepoints at a wide variety of sites, including Morrisons supermarkets and other retailers, public car parks, hospitals and various roadside locations.
In spite of the variety, “location” is the key category in which our surveyed drivers reported the lowest scores. GeniePoint’s service obviously keeps customers happy, though, and its locations provide a good sense of security, with equipment that’s also well presented. But reliability isn’t a highlight, while pricing and charge speeds earn only middle-of-the-road rankings.
Overall score 75%
Instavolt is one of the better-known brands, and it finished in third place overall in our survey, suggesting that it’s doing a pretty decent job.
The network now has well over 600 rapid chargers in service and plans to install 5,000 by 2025. In fact, it could perhaps have nicked the second spot on the podium from Shell if it wasn’t for the small matter of pricing – where Instavolt languishes in the lowest ninth spot on our table. As ever with Driver Power, it’s all about the satisfaction of users, and they’re happier with the charges of rivals.
Overall score 77%
2. Shell Recharge
The network of charging points at Shell stations is expanding, and there should be around 170 by the end of this year, with plans for more than 5,000 by 2025.
Customer satisfaction levels with the current network are high already, and it tops the table for chargers open to owners of any car, something that bodes well for Shell users as the roll-out continues. Notably, the locations are proving popular with customers – allowing easy access to coffee and snacks – although drivers aren’t so impressed with Shell’s prices, rating them only fifth against rivals here.
Overall score 79%
It may be one of the biggest noises in the world of electric cars due to its tech and the profile of boss Elon Musk, but our results suggest that when it comes to sorting out charging infrastructure, Tesla has nailed it.
Users of the Tesla supercharger network are more satisfied in every single category than users of rival networks, apart from the location category, where Tesla could only manage third place. But failure to win top spot in that category could imply drivers simply want more superchargers – because they already clearly provide the best all-round experience.
Overall score 83%
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