electric charging station with many electric chargers and a parking lot on a sunny day.

How to find EV charging stations

If you’re thinking about switching to an electric vehicle (EV), then it’s worth considering how you will charge your vehicle. You might be able to get a home chargepoint installed if you are a Motability Scheme customer, which will make it more convenient for you to recharge your car.

However, it’s still important to know how to find electric chargepoints when out and about, especially if you need to drive long distances. Here, Nick Harper shares his advice on how to find EV charging stations. 

One of the biggest concerns among people thinking of switching from petrol or diesel to an electric car is the issue of recharging. In particular, some people worry that their EV will suddenly run out of battery and leave them stranded. This shouldn’t be a concern for drivers, as your electric car will always alert you when you need to charge it – and you’ll be able to drive for quite long distances before you even need to recharge.

Electric cars: do you have range anxiety?

Even though most electric cars can travel well over 200 miles on a full battery, ‘range anxiety’ has been an understandable concern, particularly in the early days of electric vehicles. The reality, however, is that the public charging network across the UK is growing rapidly, and with a bit of planning it’s no more difficult to refuel an EV than it is to refuel a petrol or diesel car.

Search the full range

If you’d like to join the 640,000 customers already enjoying the benefits of a worry-free lease package through the Scheme, start exploring the full range of cars available using our Car Search tool to narrow down your options.

Search all available cars on the Scheme

Learn more about EVs on the Scheme

An ever-growing network of chargers

In 2016, the UK had just over 5,000 charging locations. By April 2022, that number had risen to almost 20,000 locations, offering more than 30,000 individual charging devices. That figure doesn’t include home chargers, so the total number of electric chargers is significantly higher. What it does cover is charging points at workplaces, motorway charging stations and ‘destination charging’ (e.g. supermarkets, shopping centres and car parks that often have free-to-use chargers).

Plus, those numbers are constantly rising. A further 1332 charging points were added in June 2022 alone, as the UK aims to keep pace with the growing demand for electric vehicles. By contrast, the number of UK petrol stations had dropped to just over 8,000 in 2021, down 36% since 2000. The rapid increase in chargers makes it easier than ever to plan a longer journey, but there are still certain challenges.

Differences in distribution

Look at a map of the UK’s electric charging network and you’ll see clearly that it isn’t evenly distributed. As of July 2022, Greater London accounted for 32.3 per cent of the UK’s charging points, with the next-highest number found across the South East (13.1%). By contrast, there are far fewer chargers in the North East of England (3.2%) and Northern Ireland (1%). This makes it difficult for people who live in those areas to access public chargers when out and about.

As a general rule: the further you travel from major cities and towns, the fewer recharging options you’re likely to have. It’s worth remembering that this is also true with the spread of traditional petrol stations. So while careful planning is required before embarking on longer journeys in an EV, it’s no more complicated than if you planned to drive a petrol or diesel car on that same journey and need to refuel. When it comes to planning a journey in an electric car, you have two main options.

How to plan an EV journey

Navigating via an old-fashioned, physical map is no longer the way. In 2022, more and more electric car drivers navigate digitally, using either the satnav system built into their car or via a specific charging map app. In both instances, the process is similar and simple.

1. Use route planner apps

Zap-Map, EV Navigation, PlugShare, Pod Point and TomTom are among the best route planner app options. For some of them, the basic features are free but you may have to subscribe to access the rest of the content. Several apps do allow you to download routes as well, which means you can access them offline even when travelling.

On the journey planner option, you’ll be asked to enter your start and end points. You may also then be asked for extra details such as the battery percentage at the time of departure and the type of car you have, which will determine your electric car’s range. 

Learn more about electric cars

We’ve got plenty of articles on charging tips, extending your car’s range and the difference between hybrids vs EVs – plus some Scheme customers sharing their reasons for making the switch to electric.

Take a look here

This information allows the satnav or app to determine the most direct route to your destination and an estimated arrival time, with the entire route shown on your chosen screen. If it’s a longer journey that requires a stop (or multiple stops) to recharge your car along the way, the map will flag up charging stations that are compatible with your EV.

Many electric charger maps also give you the option to click into any of the charging points suggested on the route, which then tells you not only the name of the charging station and its network operator, but also the number of charging bays available, the cost to charge and the types of charger available. They will also detail how many of the charging points are available at that moment in time, and any expected waiting times to use the chargers. 

Read our step-by-step guide to EV street charging

2. Joined-up journey planning

Aware that most of us plan so much on our smartphones, it’s becoming increasingly common to be able to connect your phone to your electric car’s ‘infotainment’ system via Bluetooth.

If your car allows you to connect, usually via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, then you can display the map that you’ve used to plan your journey directly onto the infotainment screen, to help guide you to your destination. The benefit of this is that many electric vehicles now feature large infotainment screens (the size of small television screens), which makes it easy to follow the journey in high-definition detail.

Of course, it’s important to say that this kind of immersive journey planning is not exclusive to electric vehicles; most new petrol and diesel cars come with infotainment systems that allow you to journey plan in a similar way. Electric vehicles are simply using that technology to make it easier than ever to plan your route and remove any charging anxiety you might have.


Start your journey to worry-free motoring

The Motability Scheme helps you to stay mobile, through an all-inclusive package. If you are in receipt of a qualifying mobility allowance, you can use it to lease a brand-new car, scooter, powered wheelchair or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV). Insurance, maintenance and breakdown cover are all included in the price you pay, giving you peace of mind.

Check if you're eligible

Get a free information pack


Related articles

Electric car charger basics: EV connector types and charging cables

An easy charging solution for electric vehicle customers

Is wireless charging available for electric cars?

From the Motability Scheme


Related articles

Popular articles