Complete guide to the Polar Plus charging network
In August 2020, the charging point provider announced a partnership with Marks & Spencer to “assess the use of electric vehicle rapid charging at stores across the UK”. Its first site at Maidstone Eclipse Park features three 50kW rapid chargers, which operate using 100% renewable energy. Maidstone is the first of five M&S stores to benefit from BP Chargemaster’s investment.
Elsewhere, Polar operates a handful of ultra-fast 150kW charging stations. The first was revealed in June 2019, with installations rolling out at BP forecourts from August that year. In January 2020, it opened a rapid-charging hub on the M6 in Lancashire, at the Caton Road Park & Ride location near Junction 34, installing six 50kW units. It expects to have 400 of the 150kW units in place across the country by 2021.
Polar Plus membership
Membership of the Polar Plus network costs £7.85 per month, after which most (around 70%) of the network is free to use. There's no fixed-term contract and you can cancel at any time.
After you’ve signed up, you get a card or key fob in the post giving you access to the network. You simply drive up, plug in and tap the charger to top up your car. In addition to unlimited free charges (minus the membership fee), access to the ChargeYourCar network is included.
Some charging points do incur a fee, however, with prices starting from 12p per kWh at certain AC chargers. The network's 43kW AC and 50kW DC rapid chargers cost 15p per kWh to use, while the 150kW DC ultra-fast chargers cost 20p per kWh where applicable.
The company has said that all its new rapid and ultra-rapid chargers – in addition to its existing units – will be fitted with contactless payment technology. Paying with a debit or credit card costs 30p per kWh and 40p per kWh for rapid and ultra-rapid charging respectively.
The Polar Plus network also operates an ‘EV Experience Fleet’, featuring cars like the BMW i8 and Tesla Model S. With each charge, members accumulate ‘Polar Points’, which they can then use to bid on seven-day experiences in other electric vehicles.
There are caveats, though: you can only earn points from an individual town or city once each month, and if successful you must collect and return the vehicle yourself. The EV Experience Centre is based in Milton Keynes.
A live map of the Polar Plus network showing the status of all its chargers can be viewed on the company’s website. There’s also a Polar Plus app for smartphone users.