From Elon Musk making electric cars “sexy” with the Tesla Model X to the UK government’s strong push towards a battery-powered road network, electric cars are incredibly en vogue in 2017.
Yet despite such optimism from car manufacturers and organisations, the National Grid recently voiced concerns that the UK doesn’t have the infrastructure, or a viable solution, to cope with any predicted increase in demand. Calling it a “chicken and egg” problem, it explained that people are reluctant to buy electric cars until the number of charging points increases, but money won’t be invested in charging stations until more people are driving electric cars.
If you’re considering buying an EV, or just curious to know more about the state of charging stations in the UK, Zap Maps is one of the most popular search engines for hybrid and electric car users. It features statistics on the number of chargers in the UK, the type of chargers installed and where your nearest station is. Here we explain how to use the site.
According to Zap Maps, there are currently 13,486 connectors and 7278 devices in 4712 locations. Some 478 locations have been added in the past 30 days (at the time of writing). Longer term, Zap Map’s data shows how the number of EV chargers throughout the country has increased. In 2011, there were around 1,500 chargers in the UK. That figure grew to just under 12,000 by 2016.
Find your nearest electric car charging station
To locate your nearest charging station on Zap Maps, open the live Zap Map and click ‘Find my location’ in the top left-hand corner. You will need to enable location services on your browser. Alternatively, you can type a postcode or address into the search bar. All relevant electric car charging stations will appear on the map on the right-hand side.
The Nearby Chargers offers a similar service but lists the car charging stations in order of distance in a list, rather on the map. The charge point data is compiled from a variety of sources including dealer networks, charge point networks, the National Charge Point Registry (NCR), Open Charge Map and individuals.
As the name suggests, Filters lets you filter your selection and there are a number of rules you can apply. ‘Filter by EV’ shows a list of electric car makes and models, ‘Filter by connector’ shows options from 3-pin to Hydrogen. ‘Filter by speed’ ranges from Slow 3kW up to Super 120kW and Hydrogen.
Chargers can be split into Slow, Fast, Rapid DC and Rapid AC types, and although fast chargers make up around 7,000 of the 12,000 chargers in the UK, they still take three to four hours to fully charge an empty battery. Rapid DC and Rapid AC chargers can offer 80% of charge in around 30 minutes but only account for around 2,000 of the 12,000 chargers in the UK.
Porsche is already rolling out ultra-fast chargers in Germany in the US, and they’re capable of charging 80% of a EV in just 15 minutes. However, they may take some time to come to the UK – and even when they do, they’ll appear in very limited numbers to begin with.
You can additionally filter by network (including POLAR, GeniePoint and GMEV), payment options and access. Payment options range from a POLAR subscription to RFID cards and apps, while access shows the car charging stations that are open 24 hours.
It’s possible to pay-as-you-go for POLAR’s network of charging points, or pay for a POLAR PLus membership at a cost of £7.85. At the start of August, OVO’s EV Everywhere bundle gave customers free membership to POLAR’s network. Under the plan, EV Everywhere customers don’t have to pay for membership and the network covers more than 5,000 charge points.
Elsewhere, you can register with Zap Maps to access its “route planner”. This lets you add in a destination by clicking the map or adding points and find a charging point en-route. And for when you’re out of the house, Zap Maps has an iOS and Android app to help you find charging stations remotely.