In an ideal world, we’d all be able to charge our cars at home, where we can access the lowest rates. But there are going to be times when you’ll need to charge on the go and with thousands of charge points being added in the UK and Europe every year, the map of the electric car charging network is ever-changing.
The good news is that you can easily find locations to charge an electric car using a host of smartphone apps and websites that can not only tell you where your nearest EV charge point is, but whether it’s being used, what it will cost and even whether it’s working or in need of repair.
The Best Apps To Help You Find A Charger
If you sign up to a specific charging supplier to make use of their nationwide network, then they will almost definitely have a smartphone app which will tell you where to find EV charging stations, as well as allowing you to monitor pricing, pay for a charge and plan your routes.
Savvy EV owners have worked out that having membership of a preferred supplier – particularly on the rapid charging network – will almost certainly pay off if you are likely to make repeated use of quick chargers.
Membership benefits often provide owners with reduced-rate charging, so it can pay off to have quick and easy access on routes that you know you might be using.
If you want to be able to plan your route using the whole network, then you’ll need to visit one of the open network platforms that maps every UK chargepoint.
One of the most widely used and recognised of these options comes from Zap-Map.com.
Through its interface – available as both a website and smartphone app – you can search the entire network for charge points, plan longer journeys, pay on certain networks that have partnered with Zap-Map and share updates on the status of individual chargers with other EV drivers.
Because many public services require membership, apps like Zap-Map allow you to plan a route using only the suppliers you might be subscribed to.
Once you’ve got used to some simple planning, you’ll discover that tools like this allow you to check out the availability of charge points and the operators on route, helping you to make the most cost-effective and quickest journeys.
Alternatives to Zap-Map include openchargemap.org, a not-for-profit organisation devoted to mapping charging networks across the globe.
Best Free Electric Car Charging Apps:
- Zap Map
- Open Charge Map
- Plug Share
Apple And Google Can Help You Too…
If you’re used to planning your journeys directly via Apple or Google Maps, then the good news is both major tech players have built significant functionality for electric car owners into their own navigation software.
Apple Maps can track your current vehicle charge and factor in things like elevation and traffic conditions to automatically add charging stops along the way. It knows which type of charger works for your car, making sure to route you to compatible stations. And it even accounts for charging time when calculating your ETA.
Google Maps can offer very similar help and, if your car comes with built-in Google software like the new Polestar 2, then all of your route planning can take place from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
With Google EV route planning you can find you the most efficient route, calculate where you should stop along the way to recharge based on your battery range and work out how much time you'll have to spend at a charging station.
Like Apple Maps, it also considers what type of charger you'll use (slow, fast or rapid) and charger availability.
And with navigation from these two big players including vast amounts of complementary data, you can see nearby shops and food options for each charging stop.
So whatever kind of EV you’re looking at - an urban runaround or long-range cruiser - the ability to pick the right car that works within the charging network is just a click away. To check out all the EVs we currently lease, what their ranges are, and the best deals on offer, just click here.
Want to know more? Take a look at our in-depth guide on everything you need to know about charging electric cars.