Just running an EV, charging at home, you can manage without downloading any apps at all! Pre-conditioning and charging timers can all be set from inside the car. Sat nav systems have EV chargepoint locations and will prompt if they think the car is running low. You can also find charging destinations on Google Maps, Waze and TomTom.
If you want more control or to get the best out of your EV or to find the cheapest, most convenient charging options, there are various apps available. If you rely regularly on the public charging network you will want to download the apps for your most convenient chargepoints, either to initiate a charge or for preferential pricing. You will need your own cable at fast charging points, but not at rapid or ultra-rapid, where prices are higher but payment will probably be contactless rather than app-based.
For your car
Most EVs have their own apps which enable you to control certain functions and to check range, location and cabin temperature from the comfort of your armchair. Many will also provide service reminders and energy efficiency information too.
For chargepoint locations
Zap-map.com is still the market leader and whilst it no longer has live feeds for the status of all of the chargepoints in the UK, it does have their locations (postcodes), the number of points and connectors available, the speed (handily colour coded – yellow for slow, blue for fast and purple for rapid/ultra-rapid), price per kW and a journey planner. https://www.zap-map.com/live/
At rapid chargepoints on major routes, and all newer units, you can pay contactless simply by touching your bank card/app. You might prefer to pay through an app to keep track of your charging or to benefit from loyalty offers and discounts. If you don’t have an app downloaded for your car, it’s also handy to see how the charge is going from the warmth of the service station coffee shop.
Zap-Pay: Zap-map’s payment platform works at the chargepoint networks of Osprey, ESB energy, Char.gy, Genie Point, mer, MFG EVPower and Fastned. Connected Kerb, Charge My Street, Alfa Power and Revive chargepoints will all soon be integrated too. It has a simple pay-as-you-go (PAYG) price structure set at the same or similar level to the networks’ standard PAYG price. There may be a small transaction fee per session but no membership or subscription charges. There is also a guest option if you do not want to fully register. https://www.zap-map.com/faqs/zap-pay/
For public charging
Pod Point Network app: no membership fees or subscriptions and price per kW varies – some are free to use. The network has fast and rapid (up to 50kW) chargepoints found in over 7,300 bays nationwide including at supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco and LIDL), hotels (CenterParcs, Starboard and Premier Inn), airports (Gatwick and Heathrow) and POIs (Chessington, Chester Zoo, The O2). You can also find them at David Lloyd Clubs for a handy charge whilst working out and at some McDonalds for calories and kilowatts on the drive home! https://pod-point.com/products/driver/app
Blink Charging (previously EB Go!) app: no membership or connection fees with variable pricing depending on location and charging speed. Chargepoints are widely available around UK and Northern Ireland cities, including Brighton, Oxford and Southampton. https://blinkcharging.co.uk/
Connected Kerb app: no membership or connection fees with prices per kWh quoted as 35p. Charging speeds are 7kW or 22kW. There is an option to register an RFID card to initiate a charge when there is no service on your phone (eg in underground car parks). https://www.connectedkerb.com/
Instavolt: contactless or app payments and price per kW in Jan 2023 was 75p (no subscriptions – pay as you use). The chargepoints offer rapid charging between 50-150kWh at over 1,000 locations on A and M roads, in retail parks and at brands including Costa, Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC, Co-op and Bannatyne Health Clubs. The app offers partner promotions and a loyalty scheme plus local information and status updates. EVE loves that all their electricity is from renewable sources and that Instavolt are committed to expanding their network to 10,000 chargepoints where customers feel safe, fed and watered and entertained or relaxed. https://instavolt.co.uk/drivers/
BP pulse (previously Chargemaster/Polar): contactless or app payments with various options including a subscription model (£7.85/month in Jan 2023) with opening offers, some free charging and discounts on pay as you go rates. You can alternatively opt to be a PAYG member or to remain anonymous through a guest option. There are 8,000 chargepoints around the UK, many on BP forecourts, offering mostly rapid 50kW+ charging but with some older fast charging units too. https://www.bppulse.co.uk/
VendElectric (previously ROLEC) app: subscription-free basis and variable pricing depending on the location. Their network has nearly 15,500 points found at local attractions, car parks, supermarkets and shopping centres. You can find rapid and fast charging at their destinations which locally include Squires Garden Centres and the California Country Park. https://app.vendelectric.com/
The GRIDSERVE Electric Highway covers 80% of UK’s motorway offering a variety of speeds and charging destinations with contactless payments only. Their website has an interactive map detailing all locations. EVE loves their super hubs and Electric Forecourts which are powered by sustainable energy and incorporate partner businesses such as Costa, WH Smith (and toilets). GRIDSERVE chargepoints offer CCS, CHaDeMo and 22kW AC chargepoints for Zoe.
Shell Recharge: contactless, app or Shell charge card payment options with simple pricing models – in Jan 2023 79p/kW for 50kW rapid charging and 85p/kW for 150kW ultra-rapid. 13,000 public points in the UK including at Waitrose supermarkets and kerbside in Portsmouth, Newbury, London and other cities, with plans to grow the network so that 90% of all UK drivers are within a 10-minute drive of a Shell rapid charger. Can also be used at mer chargepoints. EVE loves that their energy is from 100% certified renewable sources and their innovative All-EV hubs. Shell were voted best universal charging network 2022 and have confirmed that it’s fine to use mobile phones on the forecourts when paying for a charge. https://shellrecharge.com/en-gb
The short answer is…
- if you can always charge at home, you don’t need any apps;
- if you fast charge from a public network you will probably need the app for those chargepoints;
- to get the most out of your electric car, we recommend downloading the app for your car, Zap-Map, PodPoint plus VendElectric and bpPulse or Shell Recharge for those that plan to regularly rapid charge on the go.