Electric car owners have cast their vote on which public charging networks are best — and the ones other EV owners should steer clear of.
Fastned and MFG EV Power jointly scored the highest customer satisfaction score in this year’s report, published by Zap-Map, which is based on feedback from 4,300 battery-powered vehicle owners.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s bad news for two of the biggest oil giants, with BP and Shell – both of which recently announced soaring profits – seeing their networks slip to the bottom of the rankings.
The results of the poll follow a BBC investigation into the reliability of Scotland’s charging infrastructure earlier this week, which found that a quarter of public appliances are faulty.
Best and worst electric car charging networks REVEALED: Some 4,300 EV drivers in the UK have voted on 21 different operators, rating them on reliability, ease of use, customer support, value for money and payment options
Zap-Map, the specialist site for electric car charging updates, conducts an annual satisfaction survey of the public charging network every year.
With nearly 36,000 public appliances now in use, more than a million plug-in vehicles – both fully electric and plug-in hybrid – on UK roads and the 2030 deadline for new petrol and diesel car sales approaching. the horizon, the importance of the poll is growing every year.
Each operator is given a five-star rating, with the overall rating based on five key areas: reliability, ease of use, customer support, value for money and payment options.
Taking the crown as the best Britain has to offer right now are two ultra-fast networks: Fastned and MFG EV Power.
Fastned is a relative newcomer to the market, with the European operator expanding its UK charging network this year with a handful of ultra-fast hubs.
Both have sites with multiple plug-in points: Fastned has 30 fast chargers and 31 ultra-fast devices in 12 locations in the UK, while MFG EV is larger with 220 ultra-fast chargers in 43 locations, most of which are service stations.
They all scored very high on reliability and ease of use, and they both received the ‘Best EV Charging Network’ badge from Zap-Map.
In third place in the 2022 ranking is the fast network InstaVolt, ahead of Connected Curb and Osprey Charging – the latter of which hit the headlines in late September when it announced it would increase its charging rates to £1 per kWh – although it has since lowered that price to 79 pence effective November 1.
At the bottom of the order are networks backed by two of the biggest oil giants: BP and Shell.
The two companies have been under intense scrutiny in recent days and have reported third-quarter profits of £8bn and $9.45bn respectively as the cost of oil and energy surges.
The BP Pulse network – which claims to be the ‘most used’ and third largest in Britain with nearly 3,000 devices in 1,561 locations – ranks 20th out of 21 networks.
It earned a low ranking for reliability and ease of use.
“Survey respondents noted that units are starting to become unreliable, and also noted price increases and poor customer service,” the report said.
In its response, the network said: ‘BP Pulse is the most widely used public charging network in the UK. We are growing fast and investing £1 billion over 10 years,
“As well as growing the number of high-speed chargers, we are upgrading our network and investing to provide customers with the service they expect.
‘Our own data shows strong and improving network reliability and customer satisfaction. We are committed to continuing to deliver improvements for our customers.”
Shell Recharge finished just two positions higher in 18th place.
It is currently the most expensive of any public charging network in Britain with rates of 79p per kWh for using its 50kW ‘fast’ devices and 85p for accessing its ‘ultra-fast’ chargers at speeds in excess of 150kW.
In last place is Charge Your Car, which is owned by BP Pulse. It has more than 440 devices for fast, fast and slow charging across the country, which is less than last year (660).
It was rated the worst of all networks for reliability, ease of use and customer support.
Fastned is a relative newcomer to the market. In fact, 2022 is the first year it has been included in the Zap-Map survey. The European operator, which this year expanded its charging network in the UK with a handful of ultra-fast hubs, placed the joint first
MFG EV Power is also tied for first place, with 43 multi-device locations across the country, most of which are linked to gas stations. It scored highly for reliability and ease of use and earned the title of ‘Best EV Charging Network’ from Zap-Map
It is noteworthy that two networks that have slipped off the table since last year are Gridserve Electric Highway and GeniePoint.
From joint fifth last year, Gridserve’s network of highway chargers is tied for 10th place, while GeniePoint has fallen from 11th last year to 19th overall.
The two networks, both of which operate a large number of chargers across the country, came in lower in reliability than last year – an area both operators are working hard to improve on.
Reliability and ease of use should be top priorities across all public charging networks in the UK
Melanie Shufflebotham, COO of Zap-Map
Commenting on the results of this year’s poll, Zap-Map co-founder and COO Melanie Shufflebotham said: “We’ve already seen huge changes in the industry this year, from strong EV sales to high growth in ultra-fast infrastructure, and of course significant price fluctuations at the charge point due to rising energy costs.
‘Nevertheless, it is clear that factors such as reliability and ease of use remain the most important factors in contributing to a good charging experience. These should be top priorities in all public charging networks in the UK.
“However, the Zap-Map survey shows that while many networks offer a reliable, user-friendly service, others have room for improvement. As EVs become more mainstream, it’s critical that we make public charging as simple and reliable as possible.”
The BP Pulse network – which claims to be the ‘most used’ and third largest in Britain with nearly 3,000 devices in 1,561 locations – ranks 20th out of 21 networks
Shell Recharge finished just two positions higher in 18th place. It is currently the most expensive of all public charging networks in Britain with rates of 79p per kWh for using its 50kW ‘fast’ appliances and 85p for accessing 150kW ‘ultra fast’ chargers
Nearly a quarter of government-funded charging devices in Scotland are out of order
Samples of charging devices in Scotland have found that 24 percent are not working as they should, according to a new study by BBC reveal.
The review looked at the condition of 2,200 chargers installed with grants from the Scottish government and found that 535 of the devices had problems, with faults ranging from broken plugs and screens to the system being offline.
All chargers checked during the months of August and September can be accessed via the ChargePlace Scotland app.
Out of 2,200 ChargePlace Scotland devices tested, 545 units had issues
Transport Scotland said it would ‘review’ the data collected by the BBC but claimed its own information showed reliability issues with just two per cent of the devices.
In Zap-Map’s survey, ChargePlace Scotland ranked 12th out of 21 operators rated by the public.
This is mainly because the extensive network of charging points is currently free to use.
Adrian Keen, CEO of InstaVolt, says ChargePlace Scotland’s government-funded network may be offering free or heavily discounted recharges, but it’s now “struggling to keep up with consumer demand.”
He added: ‘Private investment is therefore becoming a higher priority for the Scottish Government, ushering in a change in approach after nearly a decade of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
“Local authorities are in the process of introducing commercial charging rates for the entire network, a move that will boost competition and generate more investment.
“Several challenges exist in Scotland’s infrastructure at the moment, but we believe these will be resolved in the near future.”
ELECTRIC CAR VIDEOS
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we can earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and use it for free. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.