June 29, 2018

BP steps up its electrical vehicle game by acquiring Chargemaster

By Jack Rear

Oil company BP has announced it will purchase the UK’s largest electric vehicle charging company, Chargemaster, for an undisclosed sum.

In a statement, the company acknowledged the number of electric vehicles in the UK will increase by 889% by 2040. That would mean around 12 million electric vehicles on the roads, compared to the 135,000 currently in use.

Chargemaster becomes BP Chargemaster

The acquisition of Chargemaster puts an additional 6,500 electric vehicle charging stations at BP’s disposal. These stations are Chargemaster’s POLAR network, which customers use either by paying monthly or having pay-as-you-go accounts for.

In addition to its pre-existing infrastructure, Chargemaster also designs and builds charging units for home charging and other locations.

Having acquired Chargemaster, BP has announced its goal will be rolling out ultra-fast charging infrastructure. This will include rapid chargers that are capable of charging car batteries for a range of 100 miles in just ten minutes.

As BP already has 1,200 service stations, it’ll be a meaningful increase in the number of electric vehicle charging stations if ultra-fast charging is added to all of them.

Chargemaster will be renamed BP Chargemaster.

Big oil’s move into cleaner energy

This is the latest of BP’s investments in electric vehicle infrastructure. There’s no doubt BP’s diversification away from petroleum is in answer to the fuel’s increasing obsolescence. It already acknowledged that renewables are by far the fastest growing fuel source in the world.

In addition, the UK Government, along with many other governments around the world, have pledged to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

All major car manufacturers are working on electric vehicles. The obvious stand-out is Volkswagen, which has pledged to create electric versions of every one of the 300 vehicles it makes.

This move comes after BP announced in January it would invest $5m in FreeWire Technologies. That company manufactures mobile charging stations, which BP has trialled at selected retail sites.

In addition, in May 2018, BP announced a $20m investment in StoreDot, an Israeli company which develops ultra-fast-charging batteries.

BP rival Shell has also made moves to invest in cleaner energy. Last year it bought NewMotion, a European electric vehicle charging company. NewMotion has 30,000 charging points across Western Europe, including over 4,500 in the UK and Ireland.

How many charging points are there in the UK already?

According to electric vehicle charging point tracker ZapMap there are currently nearly 17,000 charging points around the UK already.

The UK has a fairly dense coverage of charging points. However, there are some notable gaps in coverage. Scotland doesn’t have many charging points outside of its major cities and the same goes for northern England.

Still, with the increased investment of huge companies like Shell and BP, it seems likely the roll-out of electric vehicle charging points will increase.

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