The UK’s charge point experience has been slammed in a new customer survey.

Public electric vehicle (EV) charge points fail to be user friendly, with complicated payment methods and poor reliability major issues.

Three of the five most significant barriers to people choosing an electric car relate to anxiety about charging. A third (33%) cite a lack of charge points on long journeys, while more than one-in-four (29%) are concerned about a lack of local charge points.

Falling flat

The survey is part of Which? magazines policy paper on improving EV infrastructure across the UK. It states that there is an urgent need to improve the consumer experience of using public charge points, which is often “frustrating and inconvenient”.

It calls for a major upgrade to the UK’s electric car public charging system infrastructure. This needs to be a priority with the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) estimating eight million drivers across the UK will not having available home charging.

Currently, only 13% of electric and plug-in hybrid car charging currently happens via public chargers according to Which?.

Plugging in to reality

As the UK approaches the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, there will be a stark rise EV owners relying on public charging. This makes the situation urgent. The report states that it is vital that access to the public charging network is improved. Alongside this, the customer experience has to improve dramatically.

“Our research shows that few electric vehicle owners currently rely on the public charging network,” Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy. “This will have to change if millions of people are going to switch from petrol and diesel vehicles in the next decade.

“Improving the UK’s flawed charging infrastructure will support more motorists to make the switch to a zero-emission vehicle.

“The current confusing and complex system needs to be quickly overhauled”.

Davies says that charging must be easy, accessible and affordable if people are going to make the move to an electric car.

“To that end, we are today publishing our first electric vehicle charging policy paper “.

Upping standards

The policy paper comes as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) calls for a new regulator called Ofcharge. This would govern targets and ensure every part of the country has accessible, available and affordable charging for their EV.

SMMT’s seven-point plan says public charge points remain critical to consumer confidence. They are relied upon by many fleets, while a third of British households do not have designated off-street parking.

Tanya Sinclair, policy director for the UK and Ireland at ChargePoint, agrees. To achieve widespread EV uptake, it’s necessary to get this infrastructure in place and in the “right way”.

“It’s not just about needing a large concentration of charging stations but the speed, location, ease of use and incentives need to be carefully considered.

“Governments and councils should be actively enabling and facilitating EV charging infrastructure. The DfT must come through on its commitment to standardise the driver’s experience of charging by mandating roaming and enforcing minimum uptime for charging stations, which we hope to see in the much overdue EV Infrastructure Strategy.”