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23 November 2023

Christmas Commuting – How to Avoid EV Charge Rage

Every year as Christmas fast approaches, we start thinking about our plans for the festive period.

Who will be hosting the family get together this year?

Will we be staying home or traveling to visit other members of the family?

One thing's for certain is Britain’s already busy roads will be even more congested, making journey times longer.

We can also look forward to the seasonal anti-EV tabloid headlines.

Click-bait nonsense all designed to scaremonger motorists with stories of long queues at EV charging stations and how EV’s will never gain in popularity.

Whilst a large portion of these tales are just headline grabbers, there’s still an element of truth in and amongst the misinformation.

So let’s take a look into what to expect on our roads during the Christmas period and whether concerns over charger availability is justified, or just plain nonsense.

Improving public infrastructure

It’s common knowledge that the UK’s public EV charging infrastructure is improving.

Only just recently, it was announced that the UK now boasts over 50,000 public EV charge-points.

No bad, but there's still a long way to go.

On any given “normal” day, stopping to top-up charge your EV at a service station, charging hub or local charge-point is usually fairly routine.

However, during the Christmas holidays, millions of us all hit the roads at the same time.

These are by no means “normal” times, as millions of us head into cities and town centres, as well as travel across the UK to see friends, relatives and loved ones.

This simple act will create bottlenecks in various scenarios, and not just at EV charging stations.

Queues will be seen literally everywhere.

Whether it’s department stores, shopping malls, supermarkets, pubs, petrol stations, and yes, even electric vehicle charging stations, there may be the dreaded queues.

It’s a simple fact that if millions more people suddenly mobilise, they will have to wait longer to get the things they need.

Will charge rage replace road rage?

Motorway Traffic Jam
Congested roads will be a common site over Christmas. Image credit: Pixabay

Quick everybody, panic!

There’s a new buzzword in town and it’s set to take the world by storm.

Except it didn’t.

Back as far as September 2017, Fleet Alliance first announced that the UK was about to see a surge in EV owner road rage, dubbed ‘charge rage’.

Yet it never materialised.

Unfortunately, our friends in the tabloid media are back again trying to scare us witless with the same buzzword!

According to the Daily Mail, “furious” EV owners are getting up in the middle of the night to charge their cars to avoid queues and possible fights caused by charge rage.

(Normally, we’d link to the article but on this occasion won’t cite this utter nonsense to avoid tabloid rage!)

There’s also reports of service stations employing marshals to break up arguments amongst EV owners.

This may be true but is this down to a lack of charge-points, or more about a minority of drivers acting in a selfish way?

It’s a known fact that certain electric vehicle owners do not park or charge in a way that’s deemed fair, reasonable or considerate to others.

But the same can be said for any motorist.

Sadly, there’s a handful of self-centered drivers out there that we can do little about.

But the fact is, these are isolated incidents that shouldn’t spoil the EV experience for the rest of us.

What is unavoidable is the festive period increase in traffic, queues and stress.

So how can you avoid the hassle of queues at public EV charge-points and go on your way stress free and fully charged up?

How to Avoid Charge Rage

Queuing Teslas
Tesla drivers queuing to charge during Christmas 2022. Image credit: Kerry Davies

As Christmas approaches, more of us will hit the roads.

For those of us driving electric vehicles, it’s a known fact that finding somewhere to charge en route could be a great deal harder.

Whether it’s broken or vandalised charge points, a limited number of places to charge at service stations, or the dreaded long queues, our old enemies range anxiety and charger anxiety suddenly start to come back into our thoughts.

So how do we ensure our journeys over the festive period are stress free and smooth?

Here’s some useful tips to avoiding the Christmas travel chaos:

Charge Before Your Leave

If you have a home charger, then always fully charge your EV before you set off, especially if you have a long journey ahead.

During the cold winter months EV range is reduced, so if your range is close to the distance you intend to travel, make sure to charge your car to 100%.

If you don't have a home charger, try and borrow a charger from one of your neighbours.

Check Tyre Pressures

As well as ensuring your batteries are topped up, make sure you run a few routine checks such as your EV tyre pressures.

If the pressure is a little low, give your tyres a quick top up with air to ensure they’re at optimum pressure.

This will improve overall efficiency and reduce EV battery usage during the journey.

Plan Your EV Charging in Advance

If possible, it's always best to work out where you can stop to top-up charge if you really have to.

Apps like Zap map are incredibly useful for this task.

Ideally try to find some of the larger charging hubs along your route.

Charging hubs will have a large number of charging bays, and will most likely have one available if you need to stop for a break and put some juice in the car.

Motorway service stations are notoriously busy during these times, so if you can, avoid them.

Book Your Charging in Advance

If your EV has enough range to get you from point A to B, then there’s really no need to stop off and use a public charge point along the way.

Instead, you can easily book a charging session using apps like Joosup when you arrive at your destination.

Peer-to-peer EV charger sharing apps like Joosup offer a lifeline to people needing somewhere to charge where the local infrastructure is not so great.

If you’re visiting family or friends over Christmas, there could well be a Joosup charger in close proximity to their home.

The process is very straightforward.

You simply book an electrified parking session at a nearby charge point, park on their drive, plug in and go.

At the end of the session your EV is fully charged and ready for the return leg of your journey.

It’s a completely easy and stress free way to ensure you have somewhere to park and charge when you arrive, and then have a topped up EV to drive back home.

Set Off Early or Very Late

The best way to avoid the travel madness is to set off at a time when the roads are quieter.

If possible, set off before dawn or after dark when the bulk of the commuting traffic has quietened down.

Driving first thing in the early hours or late at night is not for everyone, but with quieter roads, you’ll find the journey far less stressful and most likely shorter.

Avoid Motorways

One great thing about driving an electric vehicle is the flexibility it offers on long journeys.

Instead of being limited to motorway service stations, nowadays you can now find charging points at places like pubs, restaurants, and country parks.

This means you can recharge your car while enjoying a break from driving in a place you actually want to be.

The convenience factor is also worth noting.

Take Welcome Break’s Warwick Services on the M40, for example, which as just three 50kW rapid chargers.

Depending on your car's specifications, these chargers can get you from 20 to 80 percent battery in about 45 minutes.

However, during the busy Christmas commuting period, the chances of finding one of these chargers available is nigh on impossible.

Just six miles down the M40, you'll find the Warwick Holiday Inn Express situated just off the motorway.

Here, they offer three ultra-rapid (100kW) chargers.

These chargers can provide an 80 percent charge in a quicker time frame, typically around 20 to 30 minutes, making it more efficient for the average electric vehicle owner.

Maintain Charging Etiquette

If you really do have to stop off to charge, then make sure you consider others in need of a top up.

It’s common knowledge that EV’s take longer to refuel than traditional petrol and diesel vehicles, so where possible, only top up with the amount you really need.

Despite a 43 percent rise in the number of public charging devices in the UK since September 2022, and a 68 percent increase in ultra-rapid (150kW+) charge points nationwide, peak hours on the UK roads remain a challenging time to locate available public rapid chargers.

Incidents of "charge rage" are still being reported.

At present, electric vehicle owners are well aware that the existing, albeit unspoken, charging system is somewhat unreliable.

Unless there's a significant improvement, frustration is likely to escalate over the Christmas period, and irritated drivers are never conducive to a peaceful and harmonious experience.


Whilst there’s very little that can be done to avoid the congestion and chaos experienced over the annual festive period, there are measures we can take to make the journey easier.

With a little planning in advance and by avoiding the usual bottlenecks, you should be able to get to your destination with your sanity intact.

By following some of the tips above, you should be able to continue to enjoy your EV driving experience and more importantly, relax and unwind over Christmas with friends and loved ones.