How reliable are public charge points in the UK?

If you drive an EV (or even if you don’t), you’re probably familiar with the publicly accessible charge points found in various places across the country. Many petrol stations have them, as well as supermarkets and public car parks, and even some hotels and leisure centres have invested in them too.

As an electric driver, it’s likely that you’ve utilised these charge points a few times in your EV ownership. They can be very handy for charging your vehicle whilst you’re shopping, or on a long journey, but finding an available charge point is only half of the battle, it also needs to be working!

If a charge point is unable to connect to the network, it cannot be used. Similarly, if there is a failure with the payment system, the entire charge point will be locked, or you may find that the screen is unresponsive, or that the charging plug is broken. Whatever the reason, a charge point being out of service can be very inconvenient, especially if there are no other available charging opportunities in the area.


Broken charge points across the country

The government’s goal of stopping the production of all petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 has a long list of accompanying requirements that must be met in order for this to be viable. One of which is ensuring that there are enough public charge points to support such a large number of EVs. It’s estimated that roughly 480,000 public charge points will be required, however, there are currently only around 37,000, which is a measly 7.7% of the target number. When we’re so drastically far from the target amount, it’s very important that EV owners have easy access to a working charge point.

ZapMap is a tool that locates public charge points, sharing data such as how many there are at a specific location and how many of these are currently in use. Recent analysis of ZapMap data* by The Solar Centre revealed the areas across the UK with the highest percentage of broken EV charge points.

The place with the most broken charge points was Derry, with a whopping 30% of public charge points being out of order, followed by Worcester at 23.1%. On the other end of the scale, only 2% of charge points in Newport were broken, and Newtownabbey, Woking and Darlington had all of their charge points in full working order.

Looking a bit closer to home, Ipswich was the third highest on the list, with 22.7% of public charge points broken. Southend-on-Sea was at 21.1%, closely followed by Maidstone at 19%.


A solution to the problem

Having your own charge point installed at home can reduce your need to charge anywhere else. A home charge point is much more likely to be taken care of compared to publicly accessible ones, and it will see considerably lower usage over its lifetime, increasing its lifespan.

If you are a business owner, consider having employee charge points installed at your business as a way to offer reliable charging for your staff. If you run a customer-facing business, why don’t you install some public charge points to help edge closer to the UK-wide target of 480,000? You can even make a bit of profit from these if you choose to.

Stop relying on publicly accessible charge points and contact our expert team today. Whether you’re looking to install a charge point at home, or at your business, we can help!


*ZapMap regularly updates to ensure the information is correct. Figures for this analysis were recorded in February 2023, but are likely to fluctuate with time.


Photo by Ed Harvey: