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Ultra-rapid EV chargers surging in popularity - ZapMap

Ultra-rapid chargers - such as the 350kW chargers on offer from IONITY - are becoming increasingly more popular. Image: ABB/IONITY

Ultra-rapid chargers - such as the 350kW chargers on offer from IONITY - are becoming increasingly more popular. Image: ABB/IONITY

A rise in the usage of ultra-rapid chargers has been recorded by Zap-Map in a new survey of electric vehicle (EV) drivers.

In 2020, 16% of EV drivers used ultra-rapid chargers, with this being a significant increase from the 3% recorded the year before. There has also been an increase in the rollout of these chargers, with 788 ultra-rapid chargers across the country, up from 476 at the end of 2019.

However, despite this boost in ultra-rapid charging, the survey of 2,200 drivers found that 50kW rapid chargers are still the most popular with 64% of respondents using these chargers.

Both ultra-rapid and 50kW rapid chargers are typically seen in the public network, with the survey finding that 90% of EV drivers use the public charging network and 39% use it at least once a week. This has dropped from the 2019 figure of 95%, although this is likely to be due to the impact of COVID-19 on driving patterns and car usage, Zap-Map said.

When specific locations are looked at, 48% charge at supermarkets, with 47% charging at motorway service stations and 32% charging at public car parks. Previously, motorway service stations had been the most popular, although supermarkets have only pipped them by 1%. Zap-Map said the increase in the number of chargers at supermarkets – with 1,631 chargers in 952 locations – combined with he availability of free charging at some of the major chains is driving this shift.

Supermarkets such as Tesco, Aldi and Morrisons have all signed deals for EV charging, with Tesco's rollout - in partnership with Pod Point and Volkswagen - hitting a new milestone in 2020 with 402 chargers installed at 200 stores.

Meanwhile, 84% of EV drivers regularly charge at home according to the survey. Dr Ben Lane, co-founder and chief technical officer at Zap-Map, said the report comes at a “crucial time for the EV market” and shows that EV drivers are “adapting to changes in the market”.

“One of the clear conclusions is the importance of having a robust and reliable charging network. As the number of EVs continues its upward march, it’s vital that drivers are offered the simplest and smoothest experience possible.”

In the same survey, Zap-Map collected data on the user experience of each of the public charging networks, with Tesla coming out on top as a result of its "seamless" charging experience. Ecotricity's Electric Highway, conversely, was ranked the worst of the networks, with common complaints including that the chargers are old, poorly maintained and frequently out of service

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