Best electric car chargepoint providers 2021

Public electric car chargers are an essential part of the electric car ownership experience and Driver Power has revealed the best networks in the UK today

As the switchover to electric vehicles gathers pace, it’s increasingly important that consumers have access to the best information. That includes insight into the public electric car charging infrastructure provided by the leading chargepoint operators, and as usual the Driver Power Survey delivers. 

With feedback from real customers who have already experienced the public charging network, the survey highlights the best and worst performers in the eyes of their users. Plus, this year we’ve expanded the survey to include questions on important factors such as lighting and security at charging stations, reliability, prices and customer service levels.

So if you’re new to the world of EVs and public charging, our ratings provide a great insight into what you might expect from a variety of key brands in the sector. Equally,

if you’re already a chargepoint user, could you be getting a better service elsewhere?

How the scores work

We asked EV and plug-in hybrid owners to rank each public chargepoint provider in a range of key areas. We told customers to rate their satisfaction with prices, charging speed and ease of use, as well as the location, presentation and reliability of chargepoints. We also asked for feedback on customer service levels and smartphone apps used to access networks. Just as with our Driver Power new-car survey, the scores were used to calculate each firm’s position overall.

The UK’s best public electric car chargepoint providers

9. Ecotricity (now Gridserve)

Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network of 162 sites was sold to Gridserve earlier this year, and if a major investment in new infrastructure bears fruit, the network will surely hope for a stronger result next year. 

As things stand, the 2021 results indicate that change was overdue, with rankings in all of our categories showing Ecotricity customers had a dim view of much of its operation – at least compared with the more impressive ratings awarded to its competitors. Along with many EV drivers, we’ll be watching closely to see what happens in 2022.

Overall score 66%

Prices:

7th place

Charging speed:

8th place

Ease of use:

9th place

Reliability:

9th place

Locations:

6th place

Lighting/security:

7th place

How many chargers:

9th place

Presentation/condition:

9th place

Customer service:

8th place

Smartphone app:

7th place

8. BP Pulse/Polar/Chargemaster

BP fast-tracked into the chargepoint sector when it bought Chargemaster in 2018, instantly giving the oil giant the UK’s biggest tally of charging stations, with over 6,500 public plug-in points. 

That has now grown to 8,000, but as our survey shows, size isn’t everything, with customers ranking BP Pulse locations in a lowly eighth place. The best feedback comes in the charging speed category where users ranked it fifth, but pricing came in at sixth, while reliability, lighting and security, presentation and the app are all well off the pace of the best.

Overall score 68%

Prices:

6th place

Charging speed:

5th place

Ease of use:

6th place

Reliability:

7th place

Lighting/security:

8th place

Lighting/security:

8th place

How many chargers:

7th place

Presentation/condition:

7th place

Customer service:

7th place

Smartphone app:

8th place

7. ChargePlace Scotland

Owned by the Scottish government, ChargePlace Scotland is rated very highly for its pricing, which reflects its vision of improving accessibility to electric cars. 

With over 2,500 chargepoints, the network also scores decently for locations, but there’s not much else for the set-up to crow about. The worst customer service rating in the table, the lowest score for lighting and security at sites, and eighth places for reliability and presentation/condition paint a less-than-uplifting picture. The smartphone apps aren’t rated as highly as rivals’ either.

Overall score 68%

Prices:

2nd place

Charging speed:

6th place

Ease of use:

8th place

Reliability:

8th place

Locations:

4th place

Lighting/security:

9th place

How many chargers:

6th place

Presentation/condition:

8th place

Customer service:

9th place

Smartphone app:

9th place

6. Osprey/Engenie

“Our charging points are always in safe, well lit places”, says the Osprey website, and a fifth place in the relevant category is the network’s highest Driver Power result. 

Osprey also finishes fifth for customer service, but it’s downhill after that, with a bottom ranking for locations and charging speed, and a disappointing eighth place for prices. Ease of use and reliability are a little off the pace, but Osprey recently announced 150 high-output charging hubs, 10 of which should be finished this year, and which may help to raise some of the scores in Driver Power 2022.

Overall score 69%

Prices:

8th place

Charging speed:

9th place

Ease of use:

7th place

Reliability:

6th place

Locations:

9th place

Lighting/security:

5th place

How many chargers:

7th place

Presentation/condition:

6th place

Customer service:

5th place

Smartphone app:

6th place

5. Pod Point

Pod Point runs an impressive number of chargepoints, with more than 5,200 in a range of retail sites and car park locations. It’s rolling out new larger EV Zones with multiple bays for easier access, too. 

While it ranks fifth overall, customers seem pretty happy with Pod Point charges and a slick app, but are less impressed by the charging speeds and customer service. The security and lighting of its locations aren’t rated highly next to rivals either, even though it has chargers at Tesco, Lidl and Center Parcs. Reliability rates a reasonable fourth place, though.

Overall score 74%

Prices:

3rd place

Charging speed:

7th place

Ease of use:

5th place

Reliability:

4th place

Locations:

5th place

Lighting/security:

6th place

How many chargers:

5th place

Presentation/condition:

5th place

Customer service:

6th place

Smartphone app:

3rd place

4. GeniePoint

This provider operates a large number of chargepoints at a wide variety of sites, including Morrisons supermarkets and other retailers, public car parks, hospitals and various roadside locations. 

In spite of the variety, “location” is the key category in which our surveyed drivers reported the lowest scores. GeniePoint’s service obviously keeps customers happy, though, and its locations provide a good sense of security, with equipment that’s also well presented. But reliability isn’t a highlight, while pricing and charge speeds earn only middle-of-the-road rankings.

Overall score 75%

Prices:

4th place

Charging speed:

4th place

Ease of use:

4th place

Reliability:

5th place

Locations:

7th place

Lighting/security:

3rd place

How many chargers:

4th place

Presentation/condition:

3rd place

Customer service:

2nd place

Smartphone app:

4th place

3. Instavolt

Instavolt is one of the better-known brands, and it finished in third place overall in our survey, suggesting that it’s doing a pretty decent job. 

The network now has well over 600 rapid chargers in service and plans to install 5,000 by 2025. In fact, it could perhaps have nicked the second spot on the podium from Shell if it wasn’t for the small matter of pricing – where Instavolt languishes in the lowest ninth spot on our table. As ever with Driver Power, it’s all about the satisfaction of users, and they’re happier with the charges of rivals.

Overall score 77%

Prices:

9th place

Charging speed:

3rd place

Ease of use:

3rd place

Reliability:

2nd place

Locations:

2nd place

Lighting/security:

4th place

How many chargers:

3rd place

Presentation/condition:

2nd place

Customer service:

3rd place

Smartphone app:

5th place

2. Shell Recharge

The network of charging points at Shell stations is expanding, and there should be around 170 by the end of this year, with plans for more than 5,000 by 2025. 

Customer satisfaction levels with the current network are high already, and it tops the table for chargers open to owners of any car, something that bodes well for Shell users as the roll-out continues. Notably, the locations are proving popular with customers – allowing easy access to coffee and snacks – although drivers aren’t so impressed with Shell’s prices, rating them only fifth against rivals here.

Overall score 79%

Prices:

5th place

Charging speed:

2nd place

Ease of use:

2nd place

Reliability:

3rd place

Locations:

1st place

Lighting/security:

2nd place

How many chargers:

2nd place

Presentation/condition:

4th place

Customer service:

4th place

Smartphone app:

2nd place

1. Tesla

It may be one of the biggest noises in the world of electric cars due to its tech and the profile of boss Elon Musk, but our results suggest that when it comes to sorting out charging infrastructure, Tesla has nailed it. 

Users of the Tesla supercharger network are more satisfied in every single category than users of rival networks, apart from the location category, where Tesla could only manage third place. But failure to win top spot in that category could imply drivers simply want more superchargers – because they already clearly provide the best all-round experience.

Overall score 83%

Prices:

1st place

Charging speed:

1st place

Ease of use:

1st place

Reliability:

1st place

Locations:

3rd place

Lighting/security:

1st place

How many chargers:

1st place

Presentation/condition:

1st place

Customer service:

1st place

Smartphone app:

1st place

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