Google has launched a new functionality for it Maps service, allowing users to easily find available EV charging points.

The service, only available in the UK and the US, will provide real time usage data on UK operators such as Polar and Chargemaster, with Chargepoint set to be added soon. This means EV drivers will be able to identify their nearest unused charging station and avoid queues.

The company added locations of charging stations to Maps last October.

In a blog post accompanying the launch, Google Maps product manager, Alex Donaldson, wrote: “If you’ve ever driven to an EV charging station only to find that all ports are occupied, you know that you could end up waiting in line for anywhere between minutes to hours—which can really put a damper on your day when you have places to go and things to do.

“Starting today, you can see the real time availability of charging ports in the US and UK right from Google Maps – so you can know if chargers are available before you head to a station. Simply search for “EV charging stations” to see up to date information from networks like Chargemaster, EVgo, SemaConnect and soon, Chargepoint.

“You’ll then see how many ports are currently available, along with other helpful details, like the business where the station is located, port types and charging speeds. You’ll also see information about the station from other drivers, including photos, ratings, reviews and questions.”

This move will put further pressure on similar services such as Zap-Map, PlugShare, and OpenChargeMap, whose user bases grew rapidly in the time before Google added charging station data. Zap-Map, which claims to have 70,000 regular monthly users, recently sold a 12.9 per cent stake to renewable energy supplier Good Energy.

In the UK, 2018 saw a record number of registrations for EV and hybrid cars, a 19 per cent increase on the previous year.  Forecasts suggest that EVs are set to be as affordable as conventional cars by 2021.