Features

Best electric car charging stations 2024: UK's top charger networks rated by EV owners

The bad, the good and the outstanding; you rank the major players in the expanding UK charging network

Tesla cleaned up in our 2023 Driver Power survey of electric car public chargepoint providers. Its satisfaction scores were miles ahead of its closest rivals for Driver Power glory, namely MFG EV Power and InstaVolt, which finished second and third.

The US maker is riding high in the UK sales charts, and part of its popularity clearly rests on a charger network that tops 10 out of 11 of our satisfaction categories. It only drops marks for locations, where it is third behind GeniePoint and Gridserve. But neither of those two scored well enough elsewhere to trouble the top three overall.

The MFG EV Power network didn’t top the table in any category, but it did rack up six second places. Sixth places for pricing and its smartphone app were less impressive, though. InstaVolt’s best performances were second places for its customer service, and the functionality of its app, but it ranked poorly for pricing, down in eighth place.

Our survey invites verified electric car drivers to rate their chargepoint experiences across a wide range of factors. Among the categories are price, charging speeds, ease of use and reliability, but we also ask users for their opinions on aspects such as accessibility, security and lighting, presentation and the condition of sites. Last but not least, we investigate the functionality of related smartphone apps.

Almost as remarkable as the consistently good scores from Tesla are the consistently poor scores of BP Pulse, with drivers ranking it bottom of our table or second-worst in every category except price, where it managed to raise its game to seventh.

The UK’s best public electric car chargepoint providers

Read on to see our list of the best electric car chargepoint networks as rated by you in our Driver Power car customer satisfaction survey...

1. Tesla - 89.72%

Having opened up its public charge points to non-Tesla drivers, the Supercharger network has gone from strength-to-strength with customers praising it across the board. In fact, it finished at the summit in 10 of our 11 categories, with only location of chargers failing to take top honours.

 RankPercentage
Overall189.72%
Prices180.73%
Lighting and security188.13%
Charging speed195.82%
Ease of use196.37%
Number of chargers189.34%
Reliability196.01%
Location of chargers380.48%
Presentation and condition193.74%
Customer service185.11%
Smartphone app193.14%
Accessibility and needs catering188.06%

2. MFG EV Power - 82.07%

MFG EV Power scored highly across all of our categories. Although it failed to secure any top spots, consistency was key as it took second in six sectors, including charging speed and reliability - two major concerns for many electric car drivers. It was only really price and a less than impressive smartphone app that let it down.

 RankPercentage
Overall282.07%
Prices666.02%
Lighting and security285.71%
Charging speed287.26%
Ease of use289.96%
Number of chargers280.16%
Reliability289.58%
Location of chargers579.15%
Presentation and condition289.58%
Customer service382.65%
Smartphone app672.32%
Accessibility and needs catering380.42%

3. InstaVolt Ltd - 80.61%

Customers love InstaVolt's smartphone app and its high level of customers service, while charging speeds and reliability also impressed. In fact it was a strong all round performance that helped InstaVolt take third place overall, with seven top three finishes across our 11 categories. High costs were the only negative.

 RankPercentage
Overall380.61%
Prices863.76%
Lighting and security381.52%
Charging speed385.88%
Ease of use488.84%
Number of chargers370.65%
Reliability386.81%
Location of chargers479.59%
Presentation and condition387.02%
Customer service283.18%
Smartphone app280.37%
Accessibility and needs catering579.08%

4. Gridserve - 77.67%

If you drive an electric car regularly, it's likely that you've seen a Gridserve charging station as customers ranked it only behind GeniePoint when it came to the location of its chargers. Competitive prices and ease of use also scored highly, but disappointing lighting and security and a poor smartphone experience meant Gridserve just missed out on a top three overall spot.

Gridserve Electric Highway  
 RankPercentage
Overall477.67%
Prices377.19%
Lighting and security779.02%
Charging speed584.65%
Ease of use389.34%
Number of chargers758.00%
Reliability480.95%
Location of chargers280.95%
Presentation and condition680.60%
Customer service476.62%
Smartphone app867.43%
Accessibility and needs catering479.66%

5. Pod Point - 77.43%

Pod Point failed to blow customers away in any one area but they also didn't disappoint either, resulting in a mid-table overall ranking. The smartphone app scored highest, with lighting and security just behind, while low charging speeds and the location of its chargers were the biggest gripes.

 RankPercentage
Overall577.43%
Prices576.68%
Lighting and security480.40%
Charging speed775.05%
Ease of use582.27%
Number of chargers566.00%
Reliability578.44%
Location of chargers677.64%
Presentation and condition580.61%
Customer service575.61%
Smartphone app380.04%
Accessibility and needs catering678.98%

6. The GeniePoint Network - 75.87%

Inconsistency was the GeniePoint Network's biggest downfall as it scored highly in some areas, but struggled in others. Customers loved the location of its chargers, taking top spot in our survey, and cheap prices were also appreciated. However, it was let down by its low number of chargers and its suspect reliability.

 RankPercentage
Overall675.87%
Prices278.86%
Lighting and security679.43%
Charging speed680.77%
Ease of use776.92%
Number of chargers952.20%
Reliability773.71%
Location of chargers181.87%
Presentation and condition778.57%
Customer service674.73%
Smartphone app473.29%
Accessibility and needs catering284.21%

7. Ionity - 74.78%

Ionity is one of the biggest charging networks in Europe, but its performance in the UK will leave some alarm bells ringing. As expected it scored well for the number of chargers and charging speeds, but high prices put a lot of users off and customer service could be better.

 RankPercentage
Overall774.78%
Prices955.99%
Lighting and security579.71%
Charging speed485.78%
Ease of use682.16%
Number of chargers469.62%
Reliability678.15%
Location of chargers868.09%
Presentation and condition482.08%
Customer service773.49%
Smartphone app572.75%
Accessibility and needs catering774.72%

8. ChargePlace Scotland - 68.44%

Owned by the Scottish Government, ChargePlace Scotland unfortunately earns a disappointing set of scores. Its relatively low prices were the only real highlight, but - just like last year - users still feel that its locations are poorly lit and are unreliable. 

 RankPercentage
Overall868.44%
Prices477.00%
Lighting and security969.29%
Charging speed973.87%
Ease of use876.66%
Number of chargers658.89%
Reliability957.84%
Location of chargers768.99%
Presentation and condition962.72%
Customer service868.34%
Smartphone app768.16%
Accessibility and needs catering871.06%

9. BP Pulse - 67.96%

EV drivers continue to be unimpressed with BP Pulse, which finished last in five of 11 categories, including location, ease of use and customer service. It wasn't much better for charging speeds and reliability, two key facts for many customers. Prices were the most positive result, but a seventh place finish suggests there is still work to do.

 RankPercentage
Overall967.96%
Prices764.10%
Lighting and security872.46%
Charging speed875.03%
Ease of use973.66%
Number of chargers857.14%
Reliability864.54%
Location of chargers968.05%
Presentation and condition871.05%
Customer service966.73%
Smartphone app965.68%
Accessibility and needs catering969.14%

A day in the life of a UK electric charge station

To put the UK’s charging network into perspective, last year we headed to a Shell Recharge station to gain some invaluable public insight. Our chosen destination was the Buckden Shell station in central Cambridgeshire, a long-time favourite spot for petrol and diesel cars to fill up, given that it sits on the southbound A1. Surely we could expect the four charging stations to be similarly busy during a working day?

In truth, there was always at least one charging bay free on the day of our visit, suggesting that for now, this station is keeping up with demand. Reversing into bay one, ready to start his working day, was Wayne Lester, who was recharging his month-old BMW iX for a journey into London.

“I had a bit of an electric-charging faux pas last night,” he admitted. “I plugged my car in but forgot to press ‘start’, so I have to boost up here a little bit.” The station is advertised as a 175kW fast charger, but Wayne’s iX was charging at around 68kW, despite being the only car plugged in. Still, he was happy with the rate: “I can go into London now on eight minutes of charge, which is pretty good.”

He does concede that EV charging requires a bit of planning, though: “I think we need more of these high-speed chargers. You’ve just got to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not going to come in, fill up and then drive off again; it’s about planning your routes a bit more.”

Wayne wants to make the most of the iX’s 257-mile range with a drive from Lincolnshire to Scotland: “I’ll have to charge three times,” he said, “but I’d be stopping for breaks anyway.”

Most chargepoints offer a smartphone app that can help with locating the station, payment and features. Wayne said he struggles with the apps on offer: “I’ve got about 50: Instavolt, BP Pulse, Pod Point... It can be a nightmare.”

Recharging their brand-new Skoda Enyaq for the first time were Carol and Adrian Hogg, newcomers to electric-car charging. “We’ve used diesel vehicles for our business up until now,” said Adrian. “An issue is that the charger doesn’t print a receipt, so we have to use the app.”

During her first experience of charging an EV, Carol pointed out a common flaw with charging stations. “In the sun it’s going to be hot – and without a cover I’m going to be really upset in the rain.” However, she admitted that the station itself was “clean, tidy and nicely laid out”.

Their new Enyaq will have to adapt to being the family car, so relatively short 44-mile trips to the office will be joined by the odd journey to the Lake District. Adrian voiced his concerns: “On most main routes and motorways there are plenty of chargepoints, but once you get into the countryside you need to research it a bit more to see if there’s the ability to recharge.” He remained optimistic, however: “Charging an EV can only improve. If we can manage now, then surely it’s only going to get better. We’ll see – it’s a learning curve.”

Take the Driver Power survey now and tell us about your car and charging experience...

Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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