Top 9 best electric car chargepoint providers 2021/2022
We rank the best EV public chargers according to your feedback
With electric cars becoming more widely available, our Driver Power survey now includes the best chargepoint providers. It’s a one-stop guide to the best and worst EV and PHEV charging points in the UK, based on feedback from owners who’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure) of using each brand’s chargers.
The information below is clearly of more use to those who already drive electric cars and plug-in hybrids, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the best chargepoint providers because it’s very possible you’ll be driving an electrified model in the future, even if you aren’t now. Being able to undertake long journeys is still a concern for many potential buyers, so knowing where the best chargers are could be a key consideration.
While you can refuel a car with a conventional combustion engine at any petrol station, you quite often need an account with each of the different electricity providers if you’re planning to use their chargers to top up the battery of an electric car. Consequently, this guide will also come in handy if you’re deciding which of the companies to sign up to.
Our respondents ranked each type of charger for ease of use, cost, amount of time needed to recharge the battery, and the reliability of the network - there’s nothing more frustrating than reaching a service station to find all the plug sockets are out of order. Just like our Driver Power list of the best new cars to buy, we use these scores to calculate each brand’s ranking.
Best chargepoint providers 2021/22
1. Tesla Supercharger - 83%
- Charging costs: 1st place
- Charging speed: 1st place
- Ease of use: 1st place
- Reliability: 1st place
Tesla does some things differently to other car companies but it’s clear it has its charging network sorted. Only Tesla owners can benefit from the (now vast) Supercharger network’s incredible charging speed, reliability and ease of use, which could be a reason alone to buy a Model 3, Model S, Model X or the Model Y over rivals.
New buyers no longer get free Supercharging for life but it seems those that have to pay are still impressed by the network. Account details are stored in the car, so there’s no need to fiddle around with apps or cards when you pull up to a charger.
2. Shell Recharge - 79%
- Charging costs: 5th place
- Charging speed: 2nd place
- Ease of use: 2nd place
- Reliability: 3rd place
Besides higher costs than its rivals, Shell Recharge stations are popular with users. This year, Shell has risen two places to become the best chargepoint provider compatible with any new electric car.
Despite Shell being an oil company first and foremost, Shell has invested heavily into its Recharge electric infrastructure, and that’s shown in its high marks for speed, reliability and ease of use. It’s ranked better than BP’s Polar network, and comparatively high prices are nothing new for Shell garages.
3. Instavolt - 77%
- Charging costs: 9th place
- Charging speed: 3rd place
- Ease of use: 3rd place
- Reliability: 2nd place
If you don’t have a Tesla, it might be worth hunting out an Instavolt charger when you need to charge away from home. It’s undeniably expensive compared to rivals, but the flat-rate prices are transparent and you don’t need to subscribe to gain access.
You’ll need to check compatibility, but most plug-in cars can use these points, and Instavolt came out ahead of other brands in terms of speed, ease and reliability. These plus points might make it easy to overlook the higher pricing - especially as it’s still cheaper than refilling a petrol or diesel car - and other charging stations could learn things from Instavolt.
4. GeniePoint - 75%
- Charging costs: 4th place
- Charging speed: 4th place
- Ease of use: 4th place
- Reliability: 5th place
You say that GeniePoint’s chargers are reasonably quick to add charge to your battery and that reliability is okay but not as good as rivals. Ratings for charging costs and ease of use were slightly improved over last year, but were still ranked pretty average overall.
GeniePoint has started fitting charging ports at Morrisons supermarkets, which may have helped improve its ranking from eighth place in 2020. Customer service is only beaten by Tesla’s Supercharger network - so any problems should be easily sorted out.
5. Pod Point - 74%
- Charging costs: 3rd place
- Charging speed: 7th place
- Ease of use: 5th place
- Reliability: 4th place
Pod Point’s main operation is public chargers but it also produces home chargers too. Its network has grown rapidly thanks to its use at many major supermarkets, with the idea being that you can recharge your car while doing the shopping. At least if you’re doing the big shop, it doesn’t matter too much that charging takes a bit longer than with Pod Point’s rivals.
Using a Pod Point charger shouldn’t be too expensive, and the company (now owned by French giant EDF Energy) also offers a free 15-minute ‘emergency charging window’ for cars low on juice.
6. Osprey/ Engenie - 69%
- Charging costs: 8th place
- Charging speed: 9th place
- Ease of use: 7th place
- Reliability: 6th place
They may have similar names, colour schemes and performance, but Engenie is a different company to GeniePoint above. Engenie’s chargers may not always be reliable, you say, and you’ll likely spend longer hooked up to a chargepoint. The British firm states it gets all its power from renewable sources and is planning a big expansion to have over 2,000 rapid chargers installed by 2024.
It was ranked fifth for lighting/security of its stations and for its customer service, but otherwise there’s not much to shout about. You’re not particularly happy about its locations, either.
7. ChargePlace Scotland - 68%
- Charging costs: 2nd place
- Charging speed: 6th place
- Ease of use: 8th place
- Reliability: 8th place
ChargePlace is unique in this company as it’s run by the Scottish government, rather than a private company. From barely any just a few years ago, there are now over 2,500 charge points situated across Scotland (including the Shetland Isles) and they’re well worth a visit if you’ve bought a plug-in hybrid or electric car and live north of the border.
The points are very affordable to improve EV takeup, and they’re reasonable for charging speed too. We’d recommend checking the live map before your journey starts, though, as reliability is far from the best. ChargePlace also came bottom of the list for customer service and how safe users feel when recharging at night.
8. BP Pulse/ Chargemaster/ Polar - 68%
- Charging costs: 6th place
- Charging speed: 5th place
- Ease of use: 6th place
- Reliability: 7th place
Despite being one of the UK’s biggest public charging port providers with over 8,000 installed, it seems that BP Chargemaster’s Polar network doesn’t excel in any particular area. Pricing is okay, as is ease of use, while reliability could be improved and charging speeds rank in fifth place in our list even though 400 of those chargers are rapid chargers.
Polar offers two pricing options - paying a Plus subscription gives you cheaper electricity, while Instant is pay-as-you-go but a bit more expensive.
9. Ecotricity/ Gridserve - 66%
- Charging costs: 7th place
- Charging speed: 8th place
- Ease of use: 9th place
- Reliability: 9th place
Ecotricity sold all its ‘Electric Highway’ stations to Gridserve in 2021, so perhaps in future years the Electric Highway chargers won’t be so far off the pace. Even though they came bottom in our survey again, there are small signs of improvement. In 2020, Ecotricity finished last in every single aspect. It seems to have become better value compared to its rivals, while the provision of these chargers at motorway service stations means their locations are useful.
But you still won’t be excited to pull up to a Gridserve charging point. Our respondents said they were unappealing and that there were too few stations. When you find an empty one, using it may be difficult, either because it’s tricky to get connected or isn’t working.
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