In the spring 2020 Budget, the government announced that it will provide £500 million over the next five years to ensure that nobody will be further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that electric car chargers are thin on the ground, but nothing could be further from the truth. At the last count, there were around 31,500 charging connectors in the UK, spread across 18,000 devices in more than 11,000 locations.
One of the first places to start, especially if you’re considering the purchase of an electric car, is the Zap-Map website. The map of UK charging points shows the true extent of the charging network.
It’s not too dissimilar to the sight that greets you when you use one of those aircraft tracking apps to view flights surrounding major international airports.
The interactive map allows you to zoom in using a city, town, village or postcode, and there are a number of filters you can use to narrow the search. These include the connector types (rapid, fast and slow), the charging network (such as Polar and BP Chargemaster), the location type, and whether payment is required.
Any problems with the charging network are likely to be reported by Zap-Map users, which gives it a community feel. The map is also available as an app on Apple iOS and Android, and Zap-Map has also launched a version on Google Assistant using voice commands.
Open Charge Map
The Open Charge Map website – which is also available as an app – is a good alternative to Zap-Map. Crucially, the Open Charge Map is a global resource, so it will come in handy if you’re planning a road trip with an electric car.
Again, you can search via a city, town, village, postcode or zipcode, and there’s a useful comments section to allow users to record their experience with the charging point. The map will even tell you if the charging point is operational, although we wouldn’t want to rely too heavily on this function.
In 2018, Google Maps added the ability to find electric car charging points. Not only can you find the nearest charger – or points along a chosen route – you also have the ability to add the plug used by your electric vehicle into the preferences.
By doing this, you’ll only see charging locations that are compatible with your vehicles. Six plugs are covered: J1772, CCS (Combo 1), Type 2, CCS (Combo 2), CHAdeMO and Tesla. it’s worth noting that the search results aren’t as comprehensive as the resources listed above.
Many electric cars offer the opportunity to locate your nearest electric car charger via the infotainment system and/or a connected app. For example, the new Renault Zoe uses TomTom data to offer information on traffic delays, the weather and charging locations.
Meanwhile, Tesla charging stations can be viewed via the car’s navigation system and by using the Tesla ‘Find Us’ map. Cleverly, all Teslas have a built-in Trip Planner, which provides a route to your destination, taking into account the Supercharging stops along the way.
The new Mini Electric and Vauxhall Corsa-e also include the find-a-charger facility, but the ability to locate a charger on the move is likely to become commonplace in the future.
Earlier this year, the Department for Transport announced that it had started work on making real-time electric charging point data available to third parties. Not only will drivers be able to see the relevant locations, they’ll also be able to pinpoint the chargers which are in use at the moment.
The transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want to make electric cars the new normal, and ensuring drivers have convenient places to charge is the key to that.”
Of course, the nearest electric charging point should be closer to home. You should consider fitting a wall box to your property, which will provide safer and faster charge times than a domestic plug socket.