Electric vehicles FAQ


What are the different types of charging?

There are currently three “speeds” of charging, defined by ranges of kW; slow, fast and rapid. The rapid category can be split into “ultra rapid” and rapid.

Slow charge point units (up to 3 kW) are best used for overnight charging and can take up to 16 hours to charge from empty to 80% charge of a 60kWh battery. Many home chargers will be slow chargers, as they can be plugged in overnight.

Fast charge point units (7kW to 22kW) arefound in car parks, on street and workplace charging.  They they take 2–7 hours for a pure-EV to charge fully depending on the battery size of the car.

Rapid charge point units (22kW – 50kW) and Ultra rapid units (100+ kW – often 150 kW – and up to 350 kW) are the quickest way to recharge a vehicle, typically recharging a vehicle to 80% in around 30 minutes. However, rapid charge points are expensive to install and thus expensive to use, they are DC only and they cannot be installed at home. They are only compatible with EVs that have rapid charging capability but they’re a great way to top up during long journeys. Typically found in motorway services car parks, petrol stations, larger shopping centres and supermarkets.  Some pubs, restaurants and short stay destinations in Swindon have installed rapid chargers in their car parks.

It is important for Swindon’s charge point network to have a mix of charging speeds, available to meet the needs of different user groups.

Where can I charge an electric car?

You can charge a car at home using a dedicated home charging point (a standard 3 pin plug with an EVSE cable should only be used as a last resort).

An electric car will have either a Type 1 or a Type 2 connector and you’ll need to choose a home charger that’s compatible with it. Make sure you get the right chargepoint for your vehicle when you purchase!

There is also a large network of public charge points, either on street (currently, Swindon has 22 bays in SN1 – read more here) or more commonly in car parks at public places, such as retail parks, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants. You can view the whole network on Zap Map

Payment and access methods across networks vary widely, with some networks providing an RFID card and others a smartphone app to use their services. While some require an account to be set up before use, the government is trying to regulate against this and so you’ll find some units with contactless PAYG card readers are starting to be installed.

Although some public EV charge points are free to use, the majority of fast and rapid chargers require payment. Charging tariffs tend to comprise a flat connection fee, a cost per charging time (pence per hour) and/or a cost per energy consumed (pence per kWh).

Can I just plug into a 3-pin socket?

It’s useful to have a 3 pin charging cable as a backup charging option, but they are not designed to withstand these loads and should not be used long term.

How much does it cost to charge a car?

The cost of driving an electric car is about 2-5p per mile, which means EV drivers can save up to up £1,000 a year when compared to driving a petrol or diesel car.

Charging an electric car at home costs about £8.40 for a full charge and is the most convenient and cost-effective way to keep your car fully charged. Most drivers will charge their electric car overnight, waking up to a full battery in the morning.

  • With the average UK electricity price sitting at around 14p per kWh , fully charging a 60kWh electric car will cost about £8.40 and give you about 200 miles of range. This equates to 4p per mile.

Many energy suppliers offer discounted tariffs for overnight charging, so it’s worth finding out what yours offers, and consider switching. This website compares some of the EV tariffs that are available.

How long does it take to charge a car?

A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW (slow) charging point. Most drivers will “top up” charge little and often rather than waiting for their battery to recharge from empty-to-full.

Can I park on the road and trail the cable from my house to my car?

Currently, Swindon Borough Council cannot give you permission to do this, as placing a cable across the highway (which includes pavements) could contravene the Highways Act, and is a trip hazard to users of the pavement.

However, we are looking into the possibility of developing a permit scheme, where – subject to certain conditions being satisfied (such as using a regulated cable protector) – could mean that you would be allowed.  Once we have finalised the scheme and passed all legal checks, we will update the information on this webpage.

Can you over charge a car?

The short answer is that you can’t overcharge an electric car’s battery. Electric vehicles (like Teslas, Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs) all have a built-in battery management and monitoring system which makes sure that the main battery pack doesn’t overcharge.

What is Swindon Borough Council doing to promote the take up of electric vehicles?

The answer is lots!

On-street Charging
Swindon Borough Council has received a Government grant to start rolling out on-street charging points in places where there are few opportunities to park off street. It’s a small project to start with, but we will monitor the take up, and will continue to consider future demand. Read more here.

EV Strategy
We have drafted a strategy to consider how we will meet demand over the next ten years. This includes on-street as well as off-street infrastructure provision, promotional activity, using planning and licencing policies to encourage EV and a rolling action plan. Read more here.

Trailing Cables Permit scheme
We are currently looking at the issue of trailing cables.  For residents who have no off street parking but need to connect a cable to their car on-street, we are looking into the legalities and arrangements for setting up a permit scheme to allow this to happen.

Fleet conversion
Swindon Borough Council has started to convert its own fleet to electric.  You will start to see our electric vans and cars on the roads.  The switch to EV is being done in line with the natural vehicle replacement programme.

Taxi support
The council is also working with taxi drivers to understand how they can be supported in switching to electric.  The”Taxi task force” will understand their needs in terms of having chargers around the town.

Planning policy
Our planning requirements changed in 2020 to ensure that new housing, workplaces and leisure developments will play their part in rolling out infrastructure to support the switch to EV.  All planning applications for new housing and buildings will have to provide a certain level of EV charge points.

Why are you putting the on-street charging points in areas where parking is in demand?

It is a requirement of Government funding that we install the points where there is proven demand, and we undertook a survey in March 2020 which highlighted the biggest need is in Eastcott and Central wards where the terraced streets mean drivers haven’t got garages or driveways to charge electric cars from. 55% of respondents indicated that the would purchase an electric car if the infrastructure was installed.

We appreciate that it may take a while for residents to convert to electric vehicles, so the bays may be under-utilised to begin with, but without them, how can residents ever have the confidence to make that switch?

How will you stop petrol or diesel vehicles from parking in the EV bays?

The bays will be subject to a traffic regulation order, that will restrict the parking to electric vehicles only, and during the Resident Parking Zone operation times (8am – 10pm) also restrict the use to permit holders for the zone, and a 3-hour limit. Three hours is considered sufficient to top up, whilst the unrestricted overnight period from 10pm to 8am can provide a fuller charge.

How much will it cost to charge on-street?

It is important to Swindon Borough Council that the charge points are affordable, so when we tendered for an operator we scored bidders more favourably if they promise to keep their rates low for customers.  EB Charging are the operator for our on-street charge points and the cost will be 25p per kWh.  This is a fair price for fast chargers – the on street points are 22kW fast chargers.

Can you install a charge point on my street?

We are collecting resident suggestions of where they would find EV charge points useful.  Suggestions will then be evaluated against other criteria and a shortlist will go forward for the next round of Government funding.

If you have a suggestion of where a charge point should be installed, please fill in the survey at

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