All information about charging and electric driving in England
Visit large medieval castles and idyllic villages, drive the way along the north coast of Scotland or just step into nature: you don’t have to be bored during your UK driving holiday. The British have installed very few charging stations and quick chargers for electric cars, but they do it differently than on the European mainland.
“Hidden” charging stations
In the Netherlands, searching for a charging station is relatively easy. You open an app like ANWB On the Road and all charging stations will appear in a jiffy. In England, you see just under ten thousand charging stations in England on your Dutch charging card app, but in reality there are three times as many.
Why don’t you see these charging stations in apps? This relates to how the British set up their own network of charging stations. Two thirds of charging stations can not be activated with a charging card, but only with a debit or credit card. Thus these charging stations cannot “roam”, so their location is not automatically shared with all charge card providers. That’s why it doesn’t show up in most apps.
Fortunately, there is a solution to everything. In this case this is Zap-Map.com† Across the North Sea, this website, which also includes an app, tells you exactly where charging stations are located, if they are available and who is the operator. Very useful if you need power on the go.
Regular charging is not optimal for every car
Just like in the Netherlands, all normal charging points have a known Type 2 connection and can therefore be used with the charging cable you normally use. The capacity of about half of British charging points is 7.4 kW (single phase 32 amps). This is not very suitable for most modern electric cars, which have a three-phase charger on board. If you want to charge a car with a 3-phase 11 kW charger on board at a single-phase charging point in England, the maximum charging speed is only 3.7 kW (single phase 16 A) and therefore charging takes much longer than with a three-phase charging point.
Cars with only a single-phase charger on board, such as the Nissan Leaf and early generations of the Hyundai Ioniq, Kona, Kia e-Niro or Jaguar I-Pace, actually benefit from English single-phase chargers. These cars have a single-phase onboard charger that can handle currents higher than 16 amps at English charging points. As a result, the maximum charging power of these cars is between 6.6 and 7.4 kW if you are at a normal charging point.
Learn more about single-phase and 3-phase charging
If you charge during an overnight stay, the difference in those charging speeds doesn’t make much of a difference. If you have a regular charging point in your travel planning and if you have a vehicle with a three-phase charger on board, for example a Tesla, Audi e-tron, Volkswagen ID.3 or a recent Hyundai Kona, it is wise to use the filters in the Zap-Map to adjust it So that you are looking for a three phase charging point. Charging speed 3 times faster is of course very impressive.
Fast charging and overcharging
Hundreds of fast chargers are spread across England with charging capacities of 50 kW or higher to reach every corner comfortably. Scotland is full of them too.
If you want to top up road freight, or in other words ultra-fast charging, your options are very limited in the UK. There are about 75 superchargers across the country where you can charge at a charging speed of at least 100 kW. Almost half of these are located in or near London. The area between Leeds and Edinburgh in the north is particularly poor. There are still a few around Edinburgh and Glasgow, but for all destinations above Leeds fast chargers with a charging capacity of more than 50 kW are a rarity.
Instavolt, BP Pulse and other networks
The main well-known shipping networks in England are Instavolt, BP Pulse/Polar, Geniepoint and Osprey. The former Polar network is the largest freight network in England. In 2018, this network was completely acquired by BP. Since that acquisition, there have been many complaints from riders about these former polar charging points, now called the BP Pulse. BP seems to be having a lot of trouble keeping this network running, complaints pouring in about availability, a slew of disruptions, and financial management as a whole. Before the charging session begins, £30 will be charged to your credit card (note, so it hasn’t been booked) after which the difference will be refunded to you. At least that is the intention. Refunds often go wrong. Fortunately, all other networks seem to work better.
Regular charging rates are in the range of 35-40p per kWh, which equates to €0.42 and €0.48, respectively. Fast charging costs around 50 – 75p/kWh (0.59€ – 0.86€). This means that the rates are slightly higher than in the Netherlands, but the difference is not very severe. Charging is usually charged per kilowatt-hour, so you won’t run into nasty financial surprises like paying by the minute or fines because you’ve been at the charging station for too long.
You can still use your ANWB recharge card everywhere up to the England border, after which time it’s time to switch to your Shell Recharge and credit card. Shell provides roaming access to about a third of all charging points in England. For all other regular charging points, you need a credit card and often also a smartphone. The latter is recommended in any case to always have Zap-Map and Shell Recharge. Otherwise, searching for a UK shipping point will be very difficult.
Boat or train car?
If you’re traveling by ferry to Harwich from Hoek van Holland, it’s easy to get to Harwich with a full battery.
You can also travel from Dunkirk to Dover or from Calais by train via the Channel Tunnel. Dunkirk has twelve Newmotion charging points in the parking garage, in Calais there are several (free) fast chargers next to a number of Tesla fast chargers in the parking lot at the Eurotunnel Terminal. In France, the supercharger has also been opened for electric cars other than Teslas. Read our step-by-step plan for charging at Tesla.
Speaking of Tesla, a Tesla driver enjoys the luxury of hundreds of Superchargers and thousands across Europe destination chargers (As Tesla’s regular charging points are called.) England also has more than enough superchargers and destination chargers. As a result, Tesla drivers in England often have little or no need to worry, also because Tesla itself prefers commuting to these charging stations.
However, you can also travel with your Tesla to destinations without these charging points, so it’s wise to prepare yourself as a Tesla driver for your electric trip to England. For example, if you are going to drive the North Coast 500 along the coast of Scotland, you are limited to destination chargers. Supercharging is only possible in Inverness, Aberdeen and Aviemore.
Charging via socket
In England, charging a car with a 230V home charger via a socket is in principle not a problem. Keep in mind that you bring a heavy-duty enough adapter plug, and a heavy-duty Schuko adapter to a UK 3-pin plug adapter – which is pretty fun. This is for sale at the best electronics and hardware stores. This adapter is intended for heavy duty applications that require a significant amount of power. Indicators “16 A” or “Max. 3680 Watts You can see that it is suitable for a large load. Always check the quality of the installation and consult the owner of the socket before charging. Charging an electric vehicle requires a large amount of energy over a longer period of time, therefore it is not recommended in Old or less powerful power installations in homes or businesses This is best done only if you can’t charge anywhere else and need power right away.
What else do you need to learn?
In the UK you can generally go well with your electric car, provided you take the above into account. Anyway, take the appropriate credit cards and your credit card with you and install the Zap-Map application. You don’t have to take ecological regions into account. Only when you enter London’s “low emissions zone” do you have to register. There are no other costs included.
Safety equipment for motorists is not mandatory in the UK, but we recommend carrying items such as a warning triangle, safety jacket, first aid kit and fire extinguisher. Also remember to set your headlights correctly in England because you are driving on the left. With modern (electric) cars, you can usually arrange this via the vehicle system. Then the headlights instantly illuminate in the right direction. If this is not possible, you can order headlight stickers via the ANWB web store in which you can partially glue your headlights on. This way you will not be dazzled by oncoming traffic that is punishable by law.
Plan your electric trip with our route planner