In the face of the devastating effects of climate change, and rising fuel prices across the country, electric vehicles (EVs) are looking like an increasingly attractive option for drivers. Not only are they better for the environment, but it’s easier to manage the cost of your travel. Whilst energy prices are also on the rise, it’s possible to charge your EV overnight at home on a cheaper tariff, and the prices in general are likely to be more stable than the fluctuations in price that you get with petrol and diesel.
But one of the concerns for drivers looking to make the switch from a standard vehicle to an EV can be charging whilst out and about. The government has pledged to get more charge points into the infrastructure of the UK, but they’re still far less common than petrol stations.
Whilst this might not worry you if you’re just nipping around town and short distances, for those who are commuting longer distances, knowing where you can top up your charge is important. Charge points aren’t confined to cities, but they’re likely to be the most convenient points if you’re travelling for work. It’s also vital for some city-dwellers who may live in flats, where they don’t have their own personal charge point like you can with a house.
So which cities are best in the UK for charge points? Can they support you wanting to make the switch to an EV? We take a look.
The different types of charging points
It’s important to recognise that not all charging points are the same. There are four different speeds of charging on offer, so if you’re on a deadline, make sure you hunt out the right type for your needs and your car.
Firstly, not all connectors on EV chargers are the same, so make sure you know which type of charger your car has. Most cars will have an alternating current (AC) charger and a direct current (DC charger). AC is usually used for home, and DC for rapid charging. Within each category, there are several different types of chargers, so make sure that you understand what your car has.
There are also different types of charge points that you can plug into, depending on how quickly you need the car to be recharged:
- Ultra-rapid: takes around 20 minutes to get to 80%.
- Rapid: the most common type currently. Takes about 40 minutes to get to 80%.
- Fast: 7kW connection will take six to eight hours, a 22kW connection will take about three hours.
- Slow: takes around 12 hours.
There isn’t an equal distribution of the types of charge points around the UK, so if you need an ultra-rapid charge, there will be more competition for space. However, hopefully more cars can use the charge point in a day, due to the quick recharge time.
It’s important to note that there are significantly less accessible charging points in the UK. Often, charge points at service stations require drivers to move between their car and the next, which may be more difficult for people with accessibility needs. There’s been a push to get more accessible charging points, and hopefully in the future there will be an accessible standard on our roads, so that everyone can benefit from EVs easily.
South England: London
It’s no surprise that the capital hosts the largest number of charge points in the country, especially if you also include Greater London. There are 5,012 charging points, which makes up 20.4% of the total points in the UK overall.
North England: Manchester
In the north, Manchester is the dominant city for charging points, with 523. However, the north-west doesn’t rank second for the percentage of charge points overall, with south-west England taking that crown with 8.7% of chargers.
Scotland might not have the largest amount of charge points in the UK, but it does have the largest amount of rapid charge points per 100,000 people. This could be beneficial in encouraging drivers to make the switch to EVs, as they won’t have to stop for too long before they can get back on the road again. EV drivers in Glasgow will have the best access to public charge points anywhere in the country, with 255 found across the city.
Northern Ireland: Belfast
Currently, the EV charging infrastructure in Northern Ireland could do with improvement, but Belfast does have a decent number of chargers, which will help get the ball rolling. The network in Northern Ireland is also currently free to use, although this may be set to change. Whilst having to pay for charging is an extra expense, a wider range of companies may look to install charge points if a fee comes in, improving access.