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Zapmap unveils the best rated en-route charging networks in the UK

Zapmap released its annual satisfaction rankings for high-powered, ‘en-route’ public charging networks in the UK with Fastned coming in first place.

Now in its sixth year, the league table derives from Zapmap’s annual EV charging survey, conducted during October 2023. The survey, which is the most established and comprehensive survey of EV drivers in the UK, saw record responses from more than 4,000 electric car drivers.

This year, for the first time, Zapmap has produced two sets of network rankings, in order to better account for the difference in scale and operation between those predominantly focused on rapid or en-route charging, and those which are mainly supporting the rollout of on-street or destination chargers. The rankings for on-street and destination charging providers will be announced next week.

For this year’s 2023-24 rankings, Zapmap is again awarding a ‘Best EV Charging Network’ accreditation to the top scorer, with the others in the top five also receiving an ‘EV Driver Recommended’ title. However, for the first time, Zapmap is also introducing a new ‘Up and Coming Network’ accreditation.

As part of the survey, respondents rated their overall satisfaction for the networks they use regularly, which is then used to rank each network out of a maximum of five stars. They also rated their level of satisfaction with the networks in five key areas: reliability, ease of use, customer support, value for money, and payment options.

In first place this year is the distinctive Fastned network, which provides high-power charging hubs with multiple devices at each location. Fastned scored particularly highly for the reliability and ease of use of its charging network, and secures this year’s ‘Best EV Charging Network’ badge.

In second and third place respectively this year are MFG EV Power and Osprey Charging, two networks also focusing on rolling out high-speed charging hubs at a national level. The two networks earn the ‘EV Driver Recommended’ title for the 2023-24 rankings, alongside Ionity and InstaVolt, which take fourth and fifth place respectively.

The league table illustrates Zapmap users’ most popular ‘en-route’ public charging networks in the UK. These operators predominantly offer high-powered charging devices, catering to drivers looking to charge up as quickly as possible during longer journeys.

It is worth highlighting that ChargePlace Scotland – which holds seventh place overall – takes first place for customer support and also value for money, thanks to some of its extensive network of charge points still being free to use.

At the lower end of the table, bp pulse and GeniePoint have swapped places, with the former taking 10th position and the latter coming in at eleven. The two networks, which both operate a large number of charge points across the country, came lower down in terms of reliability and ease of use – areas both operators are working hard to improve upon.

This year Zapmap has also added a new ‘Up and Coming Network’ category, for those networks with not quite the requisite number of responses from EV drivers in the survey, but whose performance would have put them near the top of the table.

The en-route ‘Up and Coming Network’ this year is evyve, a new network that already has over 100 charging locations and 220 devices across the UK, most of them higher-powered devices.

Melanie Shufflebotham, Co-founder & COO at Zapmap, said: “This year has seen continued growth in the number of new electric cars registered, and in parallel significant growth in the charging infrastructure that many drivers depend upon.

“The results of our annual EV survey highlight that for many EV drivers availability and reliability of chargers remain a concern. That’s exactly why these rankings and our ‘Best EV Charging Network’ accreditations are important. They provide feedback directly from EV drivers and act as a solid indication of which networks are more dependable.

“Splitting the rankings into two categories reflects the growing nature of the market, with many more players and more specialisation, so it makes sense to compare similar networks.

“Going forward we hope that all the charge point networks will continue to focus on providing both more chargers and a reliable, easy-to-use charging experience for EV drivers.”

The top five en-route charging networks 2023/24
1st – Fastned – Star Rating 4.5
With only 90 rapid and ultra-rapid charging devices across the country, Fastned has a smaller UK presence than some of the other players on the table, but this is changing. The European network is continuing to establish a strong foothold in the UK and has expanded its network by 50% so far this year, with Fastned’s distinctive yellow canopies now at locations stretching from Sandwich to Dundee.

What’s more, Fastned’s offering certainly seems to be resonating well with electric car drivers across the country, with its iconic hub design, highly reliable charging and simple payment winning praise up and down the country. Keep an eye out for many more of the network’s eye-catching yellow canopies popping up over the next few years.

As with last year’s rankings, reliability and ease of use were key to Fastned’s position this time around, with the network coming first in both categories, helping it to win this year’s ‘Best EV Charging Network’ badge.

Feedback highlighted Fastned chargers as “Excellent” and focused on the network’s “reliable and decent charging” experience. Indeed, respondents to the survey were overwhelmingly positive about charging on Fastned devices, but some feedback illustrated that the network is still in its early stages here in the UK, highlighting that it is “New” and that there are “no facilities to relax.”

Tom Hurst, UK Country Manager at Fastned, said: “We are absolutely delighted that EV drivers have voted us the UK’s favourite EV charging station for the second year in a row.

“It’s a real recognition of the importance of providing EV drivers with the quality charging experience they deserve. Our hardworking and passionate team are now firmly focused on ensuring you can see even more of our distinct yellow canopies soon.

“These ratings send a strong signal to local authorities and grid operators that ultra-rapid EV charging is here to stay in the UK. And that it can go from strength to strength with the right support.”

Network stats:

  • 60+ ultra-rapid devices and 30 rapid devices at almost 20 locations across the UK
  • The network has grown by 50% in the UK so far this year
  • Accepts contactless and digital payments via cross-network solution Zap-Pay

2nd – MFG EV Power – Star Rating 4.0
MFG EV Power, the ultra-rapid network from Motor Fuel Group, has around 560 charging devices up and down the country, and is aiming to install some 3,000 ultra-rapid devices by 2031.

Coming in joint-first last year, MFG EV Power has moved to second place this time around. Its sites are typically at traditional petrol station locations, and are installed in charging hubs with at least four charging devices. MFG has more than doubled the number of chargers in its network this year, predominantly installing reliable, high-powered hubs at forecourts across the country.

As with Fastned, reliability and ease of use were integral to MFG EV Power’s position this year. The network came in joint-second for reliability and second for ease of use, helping it to win an ‘EV Driver Recommended’ accreditation.

Feedback highlighted the pace of MFG’s charge point rollout in 2023, with “loads of chargers popping up,” as well as the reliability of devices and “Excellent amount of chargers at each location.” One driver simply said, “Always worked for me!” MFG also came in joint-second for payment options, which include Zap-Pay, contactless and the MFG EV Power app. Some drivers noted high costs as a detractor, but emphasised the “Excellent facilities and the safe/secure environment at 24/7 petrol stations.”

Martin Symes, EV Director at MFG EV Power, said: “The MFG EV Power team are humbled and honoured to be recognised in the Zapmap drivers’ survey.

“This achievement reflects the tireless efforts of our entire team, it fuels our commitment to shaping the future of sustainable transportation and our passion to continue pioneering innovation and delivering exceptional EV experiences.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all our customers for your trust and support. Your choice to partner with us on this sustainable journey is truly appreciated. Together, we are shaping the future of mobility, and we couldn’t do it without your dedication.”

Network stats:

  • 560 ultra-rapid charging devices across 120+ locations, predominantly at fuel forecourts
  • Aiming to install 3,000 ultra-rapid chargers by 2031
  • MFG EV Power is a live Zap-Pay partner

3rd – Osprey Charging – Star Rating 4.0
This year, Osprey moves up a place to third. With around 740 rapid and ultra-rapid devices across the UK, Osprey is committed to creating safe, accessible charging points. In 2022, the network launched a newly designed charge point to make this commitment a reality, and has been rolling these out with gusto up and down the country.

Indeed, since last year, Osprey has not only doubled the number of chargers on its network, but has also started to roll out some impressive charging hubs, such as its ultra-rapid hub at Salmons Leap in Devon. The network has also shown a real understanding of the needs of electric car drivers, with a focus on both accessibility and customer service.

Osprey comes in joint-second in terms of reliability this year and in third for ease of use, helping the network to win an ‘EV Driver Recommended’ accreditation. Feedback highlighted the reliability of Osprey’s “Great chargers” and how “Easy to use” they are. The quality service Osprey provides also came through clearly: “A model for other networks” with “consistently reliable and great customer experience,” said one driver. “100% satisfaction – could do more of them locally,” said another.

Ian Johnston, CEO of Osprey Charging, said: “We’re delighted to be named as one of the UK’s Recommended charging networks for the fourth year running.

“Over the last twelve months we have more than doubled the size of our nationwide network and placed a real emphasis on improving the ease of use and accessibility of our charging sites, as well as consistently delivering above 99% reliability.

“I’m particularly proud of the team for the ongoing rollout of large, high-powered charging hubs, and further enhancing our market-leading roaming position.”

Network stats:

  • Around 130 ultra-rapid charging devices, more than 610 rapid devices and around 10 lower-powered devices across more than 300 locations
  • National network, opened the South West’s largest ultra-rapid hub earlier this year in Devon
  • Zap-Pay launch partner, offering simple cross-network charging

4th – Ionity – Star Rating 3.5
With 130 ultra-rapid charging devices across 22 locations, Ionity is currently one of the smaller en-route networks operating in the UK. However, the network is installing ultra-rapid charging hubs close to motorways and major A roads up and down the country, and operates almost 3,000 charging points along European motorways in 24 countries.

This year Ionity moves up a place to fourth. The network came in joint-third place for both reliability and joint-fourth for ease of use, receiving a higher score for customer support and value for money than InstaVolt in fifth.

Survey respondents described Ionity devices as “Excellent chargers” that are “Fast and conveniently located,” although there are “some not working.” Others highlighted high prices at Ionity locations as well as the limited extent of the UK network at present: “Soooo fast but expensive,” said one driver, while another thought there are “not enough around,” with some sites at “questionable locations.”

Network stats:

  • 130 ultra-rapid charging devices across 22 locations
  • Expanding its UK charging network, with more than 10 locations currently in construction
  • Recently partnered with Village Hotels to open hundreds of UK ultra-rapid devices

5th – InstaVolt – Star Rating 3.5
With almost 1,300 rapid and ultra-rapid charging devices across the country, InstaVolt has the largest rapid network in the UK. The operator, which provides reliable rapid and ultra-rapid chargers with simple contactless payment from Scotland to Cornwall, drops from third to fifth position this year and wins an ‘EV Driver Recommended’ accreditation.

This time around, InstaVolt came in joint-third place for both reliability and joint-fourth for ease of use, scoring just below Ionity in terms of customer support and value for money.

Drivers described InstaVolt devices as “Expensive but always works” and “Great. Modern. Reliable.” Others highlighted points such as “Cables [being] too short, parking bays too small,” a “Poor customer helpline” and that locations “Could do with a roof.”

However, the breadth, reliability and continued expansion of InstaVolt’s network were clear to see, with respondents noting that the network is “Plentiful and generally reliable” with “More available in hometown and rural regions” than other networks. Some drivers “seek them out if possible.” 

Network stats:

  • Almost 1,300 rapid and ultra-rapid charging devices across 560 locations
  • Largest en-route charging network in the UK
  • Find InstaVolt devices at Costa Coffee, KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds outlets as well as retail parks, gyms and service stations

Jade Edwards, Head of Insights at Zapmap, said:
“These en-route network rankings help to give clarity on how the UK’s charging infrastructure is developing, not least because they highlight what networks are doing well, and where there is room for improvement at this high-powered end of the charging spectrum.

“It’s clear that the reliability and ease of use of the UK’s en-route charging networks are key drivers of the level of Zapmap users’ satisfaction with any given network. These two factors should be top priorities across all the UK’s public charging networks.

“Indeed, Zapmap’s annual survey shows that while many en-route networks are providing a reliable, easy-to-use service, others have work to do. Electric cars are entering the mainstream, so it’s vital for the industry to make public charging as simple and reliable as possible.”

Zapmap Insights has developed a range of products that enable the industry to understand charge point profiles as well as the patterns of utilisation across the UK’s public charging network, helping to support both benchmarking requirements and investment decisions.

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