Electric hybrids cars are more popular than ever on UK roads and are also better to drive than they have ever been. The number of public vehicle charging stations available seems to be growing daily but this is still relatively new technology. A charging station is simply a collection of individual charging points which are often arranged like conventional petrol or diesel pumps. But charging stations are not just available in petrol station forecourt's, you can often find them in the corner of a motorway services car park or even in the car parks of large shopping centres or supermarkets. Individual electric vehicle charging points are also available on some public streets through the local councils there are even moves to convert lampposts into public electric vehicle charging points.
Currently there are thousands of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the UK with almost 7500 individual charging points. This network of charging stations in the UK is owned and operated by a number of different companies, each of which will likely require you to register with them and carry a swipe card to be able to use their machines. If you are planning a long journey in an electric car or plug-in hybrid, then it's probably a good idea to register with more than one company. The largest company providing electric vehicle charging stations in the UK is Polar and 80% of its stations are free to use for subscribers.
Other charging station providers such as Zero Carbon World do not require a full subscription yet they charge nothing for using any of the charging stations. There is only one provider of motorway electric vehicle charging stations in the UK currently and that is Ecotricity. Ecotricity has around 145 public stations on motorways around the UK which costs around £6 for 30 minutes charging.
The time to charge an electric or hybrid vehicle will vary depending on the type of charging station and the specification of the vehicle batteries. Slower charging rates using 3 kW charging points can take up to 8 hours for a full charge. Faster charging rates of 7 to 22 kW are available which can fully charge a vehicle in just 3 to 4 hours. There are also rapid chargers available with rates of up to 50 kW which can fully charge a vehicle in as little as 30 minutes. But not all vehicles of the same type of charging connector and there are two main types of connectors in use in the UK. Slow chargers usually have a Type II connector as to almost all fast chargers whereas rapid chargers are available in both types.
Tesla have their own rapid charging network known as superchargers and there are currently around 150 of these in the UK which charge at 120 kW. This network used to be free for all Tesla customers but customers who purchased cars after January 2017 now only gets 400 kWh of energy free and they have to pay 20p for each subsequent kilowatt-hour. Tesla work in conjunction with hotels, shopping centres and similar locations to offer destination chargers which are slower than superchargers operating at 22 kWh but still useful.
Another option is to install an electric vehicle charging point at home. These charging points can allow you to use fast but not rapid charging and there are grants available which will pay towards the cost of installing a home charging points of up to 75% of the total installation costs. Having a vehicle charger point at home is perfect if you rear rarely do long journeys as you can simply plug the vehicle in to the charging point every night. However, if you do longer journeys, then registering with one or more networks makes sense.