There are over 100 motorway service stations in the UK, which are used day and night by drivers across the country. Everyone has used a service station at some point, and some even have their favourite place to stop on a long drive.
The best service stations have everything you need for a motorway journey – from food and drink to shops and children’s play areas. But what about electric vehicle charging points?
With the rise in popularity of electric car leasing and electric van leasing, most service stations in the UK have some form of electric vehicle charging. However, the last thing you want to do is wait in line to use a slow charger instead of making progress on your route.
That’s why DriveElectric analysed every motorway service station in the UK to find the ultimate place to stop for electric vehicle drivers. It looked at the number of charging devices, including ultra-rapid chargers and Tesla chargers, the average cost of charging, and amenities at service stations across the nation to reveal the best EV service station.
The best service stations for EVs
1. Rugby | EV service station score 6.81/10
Rugby service station is the best service station to visit if you drive an electric vehicle. The M6 station is home to more electric vehicle chargers than any other service station except Exeter, with 12 ultra-rapid chargers and 12 Tesla chargers. As one of the cheapest places to charge, it costs on average £0.52/kWh to use the chargers at Rugby’s Moto services. The service station is rated four out of five stars by users and is home to a children’s play area and grassy outdoor space.
2. South Mimms | EV service station score 6.66/10
The Welcome Break service station at South Mimms comes in second place as one of the best in the UK for electric vehicles. The M25 rest stop is home to 19 electric vehicle chargers, including six ultra-rapid chargers and 12 Tesla superchargers. It costs on average £0.52/kWh to use the chargers at South Mimms services and visitors can choose from 11 food outlets and four shops, including Little Waitrose & Partners and WH Smith.
3. Beaconsfield | EV service station score 6.57/10
Beaconsfield Services on the M40 is one of the best rest areas in the UK for electric vehicle drivers. The Extra service station has nine electric vehicle charging devices, including six ultra-rapid chargers. While the cost of charging is the most expensive out of our top three, at £0.72/kWh on average, the service station offers plenty of choice for food and shopping. Beaconsfield Services is home to 16 food outlets and four shops, including Krispy Kreme and KFC.
The worst service stations for EVs…
While there are some motorway service stations that are completely unequipped for electric vehicle charging, such as Lisburn services and Leicester Forest East on the M1, our study only analysed rest stops with at least one electric charger. The following service stations are the worst places to stop, out of all stations that have vehicle charging options.
1. Bothwell (southbound) | EV service station score 0.52/10
Bothwell Services on the M74, operated by Roadchef, is the worst service station in the UK for electric vehicles, out of all the service stations with charging points. The rest stop has just one electric vehicle charger on ZapMap, with an output of 50kWh and an average cost of £0.69/kWh. Bothwell services have no hotel or children’s play area and are home to just two shops: SPAR and WH Smith.
2. Pont Abraham | EV service station score 0.59/10
Pont Abraham Services is the second Roadchef-operated station to appear in our bottom three, scoring just 0.59 out of 10 for EV-friendliness. The M4 service station has one electric vehicle charger and the average cost of charging is £0.69/kWh. The rest stop has three eateries, including McDonald’s and Starbucks on the Go.
3. Hamilton (northbound) | EV service station score 0.81/10
Hamilton service station is the third Roadchef-operated station ranking in our bottom three as one of the worst places to stop for electric vehicle drivers. The M74 service station has one charging device and an average charging cost of £0.69/kWh. There are five food outlets at Hamilton Services, including McDonald’s and Costa Coffee.
The service station with the most electric vehicle chargers | Exeter: 28 chargers
Running out of charge in your electric vehicle can be a nightmare, especially when you are travelling on a motorway. Most service stations are equipped with electric vehicle chargers, although if there aren’t enough devices you might have to wait before you can use one. On an unfamiliar journey, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and choose a place to rest and charge that works with your route. You can also look at the number of chargers online, and pick somewhere with a few chargers so you won’t have to wait. At the Exeter service station on the M5, there are a whopping 28 electric vehicle chargers, including 12 ultra-rapid chargers and 16 Tesla superchargers.
The service station with the most rapid electric vehicle chargers | Reading: 16 ultra-rapid chargers
If you have a long drive planned, waiting for your vehicle to charge can be inconvenient. To avoid making a longer service station stop than needed, you might choose to use a rapid or ultra-rapid charger, depending on the battery size and charging capabilities of your car. At the Reading service station on the M4, there are 16 ultra-rapid chargers, all delivering over 100kWh of energy.
The cheapest service station for electric vehicle charging | Scotch Corner: £0.50/kWh
The cost of electric vehicle charging can vary depending on the charger provider, so it helps to know the cheapest places in the UK you can stop and charge your car. Scotch Corner on the A1(M) is the cheapest motorway service station for electric vehicle charging, costing 50p/kWh on average. The average cost of charging across all the service stations in our study is £0.62/kWh, making it around 12p cheaper per kWh on average to use the chargers at Scotch Corner services.
The most expensive service station for electric vehicle charging | Sarn Park: £0.76/kWh
Electric vehicle charging devices can be expensive, and charging at Sarn Park services might be more costly than at any other UK service station. The average cost of charging at the Sarn Park service station is £0.76/kWh, which is £0.26/kWh more expensive than at the UK’s cheapest service station. When compared to the average cost of charging across all the service stations in our study, which is £0.62/kWh, charging at Sarn Park services could cost you around 14 pence more per kWh.
The service station with the most food outlets | Leeds Skelton Lake: 17 eateries
On a long motorway drive, there is a chance of you or your passengers getting hungry for a meal. Whether you are travelling during lunchtime or dinner, Skelton Lake services on the M1 is home to the biggest selection of food outlets in the UK, so you are guaranteed to find options for every craving. The service station houses 17 eateries, including Tortilla, Starbucks, and Nando’s.
The service stations with the most shops | Tebay, Gloucester: 6 shops
When travelling long distances, you might find yourself on the road and in need of a drink, snack or even a phone charger. Service station shops can be a lifesaver for getting the essential items you need for your journey. Tebay and Gloucester service stations have six shops each. When stopping at Tebay services, you can visit Food to Go for a quick bite or the Gelato Counter shop for a sweet treat. At Gloucester services, travellers can shop at the Farm Shop for local produce or visit the Fish Counter.
DriveElectric wanted to discover the best motorway service stations for electric vehicles in the UK. It compiled a seed list of motorway service stations with electric vehicle charging stations sourced from Motorway Services Online. It omitted all service stations with no electric chargers.
- DriveElectric sourced the total number of electric vehicle chargers at each motorway service station from ZapMap on 5th June 2023. We looked at all charging options, including ultra-rapid chargers (100kW), fast chargers (43kW), slow chargers (7kW) and Tesla chargers. Where electric vehicle charging devices had more than one available power setting, the highest power setting was used. Charging devices with no price information were omitted. For service stations with northbound and southbound sites, the number of chargers at both locations was recorded.
- DriveElectric sourced the average charging cost in £/kWh at each motorway service station from ZapMap on 5th June 2023. It recorded the charging cost for each available charging device before calculating the average cost of charging. For charging devices where the price differed based on power output, the highest rate was used. Charging devices with no price information were omitted. For service stations with northbound and southbound sites, the data was combined.
- Driveelectric sourced the number of eateries at each service station from Motorway Services Online on 1st June 2023. It included food outlets with seasonal opening dates and those located in the forecourt. It omitted drink outlets that do not serve food.
- DriveElectric sourced the number of shops at each service station from Motorway Services Online on 1st June 2023. It included shops in the forecourt and omitted fuel station shops.
- DriveElectric sourced the number of hotels and children’s play areas at each service station, and the user review rating from Motorway Services Online on 1st June 2023.
- To calculate the EV service station score out of 10 DriveElectric gave each motorway service station a score out of 10 for each factor, giving each factor equal weighting. It then calculated the average score of each service station across all factors to find the EV service station score out of 10 which formed the basis of our ranking.