How to use a public charging point for electric vehicles

One of the biggest concerns motorists have about buying an electric vehicle is whether it has enough battery capacity for long distance driving.

To alleviate some of these worries, public charging infrastructure is increasing. This works similarly to a petrol station, with charge points posted in locations that allow you to top up your batteries on the go.

These are usually fast charging points, too. So while your home charger will be pretty slow, these can recharge a good chunk of your batteries in half an hour or so.

How do they work? It’s generally pretty simple, so here’s a quick guide.

Audi e-tron charging
Audi e-tron charging

Find a charger

The first thing to do is find somewhere to charge. Most EVs will have charge points built into the sat nav, so you can simply navigate to one when you’re low.

However, if you’re planning ahead of a trip, you can use websites such as Zap Map to find charge points along your route.

Check your car is compatible

There are a few different connectors on the market, so the first thing to check is whether the connector at the location you want to charge will fit your vehicle.

Your owner’s manual will tell you what charger you have, while websites such as Zap Map can tell you what connectors are at each destination.

Sign in or register

One of the most annoying aspects of public charge points is that there is a huge variety of providers. The process has been simplified in recent years, but when you arrive, read the instructions on the charger’s screen because you might have to open an account and use a mobile phone app to pay.

Once you have an account with the company that runs the charger you’re using, you can usually hold your phone close to the screen to unlock it if you download their app, or if you’ve been sent a card you can use that too. Simply scan the card and the machine will allow you to start charging.

The latest devices can also be used with contactless credit cards – simply hold the card in the correct place and you’re good to go. Watch out for costs, though, as this can be a pricey way to do it – some devices cost more to use via contactless.

Audi e-tron Sportback
Audi e-tron Sportback

Plug the car in

Once you know you have the right connector and you’ve activated the charger, simply lift the plug and put it into your car.

Then check on the charger’s screen that a charge is being delivered and check that your car is indicating a charge is being received and you’re good to go. If you’re leaving your vehicle remember to lock it so the charger is locked in place too.

Finishing your charge

Once you’re happy you’ve received enough charge, it’s simply a case of reversing the process above. Follow the instructions on the screen to end the charge and find out how much it has cost. Then remove the plug from your car and put it back on the charge point.

Then, you’re good to go!