Complete guide to the Ubitricity charging network
Here's how to use the Shell-owned Ubitricity network, which offers convenient on-street charging through lamp-posts and bollards
The Ubitricity charging network offers on-street charging to electric and plug-in hybrid car drivers who perhaps don’t have the option of installing a wallbox on a driveway of their own. Ubitricity’s chargers can be found at the roadside, either built into lamp-posts or contained within standalone, kerbside bollards.
The charge points are located nationwide, though for the time being the majority can be found in the Greater London area. However, in January 2023, Ubitricity committed to installing 300 new electric-car chargers in Liverpool – a figure that when complete, would give the city the third largest public charging network in the UK.
Charging rates of around 5.5kW are common across the Ubitricity network – slightly slower than a typical 7kW home wallbox. However, that should still mean a full charge will be achievable for most electric vehicles overnight.
As of mid-2022, there were 5,500 chargers on the Ubitricity network. The Liverpool expansion will add significantly to that total, and the company has also promised to install an additional 500 charge points in the borough of Westminster alone by the end of March 2023. Ubitricity also has points now live in Oxford, Newbury and Portsmouth, plus Dublin in Ireland, as well as a presence in Germany and France, too.
Previously, you needed to buy a special cable in order to benefit from Ubitricity’s membership schemes, but following the January 2021 purchase of the company by Shell, that setup has been scrapped. You can now connect using any standard Type 2 charging cable and activate the charge in your phone's web browser – via a QR code on the charge point – or using the Shell Recharge app.
How to charge on the Ubitricity network
You no longer have to buy Ubitricity’s 'SmartCable' in order to use the network. You simply park next to a free charger and plug in with a standard Type 2 cable. It’s worth noting that unlike many rapid charge points, very few Ubitricity chargers have reserved EV-only parking. The spots are often on residential streets, and can be occupied by cars not using the infrastructure.
To begin charging, you can either use the Shell Recharge app (which you'll likely already have on your phone if you're a regular user of the brand's rapid-charging network), or scan the QR code on the sign affixed to the lamp-post to open a web portal. It goes without saying that you must ensure any cables are trailed as neatly as possible to prevent members of the public tripping while your car is charging.
There are no subscriptions or monthly contracts with Ubitricity – you simply pay for the electricity you use each time. As of November 2022, the charge point operator revised its pricing structure, reducing its 'standard' rate from 49p/kWh to 45p/kWh. This price is applicable 21 hours a day (from 7pm to 4pm); from 4-7pm you'll pay a peak rate of 79p/kWh. However, Ubitricity allows users plugging in after 12pm to schedule their charge to start "after the peak window has finished".
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