Ian, owner of a 62kWh LEAF electric car, comments on public charging.
What do you think of the UK public charging network in general?
It is growing and there are some good and reliable providers. Equally, there are some very unreliable ones which can be extremely frustrating. It is also frustrating that there are so many different providers that one can end up with a wallet full of RFID cards and loads of phone apps. It is dead easy filling a car up with petrol, just turn up, fill up and pay for it. It should be that simple for EV users but it isn’t.
What and where are your favourite UK public chargers?
Instavolt is by far is the easiest and most reliable network (plug in, pay and go). Others are also reliable such as Pod Point and Mer but even that is a bit of a fiddle with having to identify the charger on the app and start it up. When we stay with family in North London (no congestion charge, no ULEZ charge!) we use local lamp post chargers which are a bit hard to spot but perfect for overnight stays. However, they could do with the spaces being marked as many are ICE’d by local residents.
What’s been your best experience with a UK public charger?
Instavolt. Only once did we find the charger not working but a call to their help centre was answered immediately, the charger was rebooted and with an apology and a free charge was provided. Brilliant service. Most of their locations have two or more chargers (as did this one in Bristol but the other was being used).
What’s been your worst experience with a UK public charger?
Probably a trip home from Lincoln where we encountered seven successive chargers out of order and five of those were bp pulse. The one that worked was GeniePoint in the underground car park at Morrisons, Newark. Unfortunately, it is at a location where there is no signal so the app couldn’t be used but it worked fine! Both bp pulse chargers in Newark were out of order and I see from Zap-Map they still are. There was a time when I would have said that Chargemaster (Polar) was the top provider but since being acquired by bp pulse it has gone downhill.
What’s got to change about public charging in the UK to get more people driving electric cars?
1) Reliability and simplicity needs to be addressed
2) It would be useful if there was per mainland European practice, an aggregator that covered a large number of providers
3) The number of cars seems to be growing faster than the number of charging connectors
4) The shocking unreliability and paucity of motorway service area chargers must be addressed (apart from Tesla which is well served). The Ecotricity monopoly worked against choice and availability, hopefully that is now changing.