So, you’ve decided to go green and buy an electric vehicle – or EV, as those techies call them. You’re all psyched about decreasing your carbon footprint and fighting climate change, but here’s the one question that’s bugging you: where will you charge it?
As of now, electric charging points, or stations, are nowhere near the accessibility level that they need to be in order to make EVs take over the market. After all, if you’re worried about getting stranded after driving 200 miles, you might be less inclined to make your eco-friendly car purchase.
Enter, a surprising twist to the scene: oil-hungry BP. Well, BP is one of several big oil and gas companies that have started rethinking the traditional fossil-fuels-heavy path. In a clear effort to embrace renewables, BP has just dedicated $5 million to invest in rapid charging stations for EVs in Europe and the UK. With the roughly 130,000 electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the UK, BP is stepping into a market that other oil companies, such as Shell, have already entered. Over 70,000 new EVs are expected to be sold in 2018, according to Chargemaster Plc.
BP will be partnering with Freewire Technologies to make it possible for EVs to charge in half an hour at designated stations, starting in February and March throughout the UK and branching into Europe later this year. Tufan Erginbilgic, the chief executive of BP Downstream, said: “EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.”
Freewire Technologies has a shopping cart-sized mobile EV charging station on wheels called Mobi that only requires an outlet to charge an EV. Mobi has an onboard energy storage in the form of “second-life” EV batteries; that, plus its convenient size is just what BP is looking for:
“Using FreeWire’s mobile system we can respond very quickly and provide charging facilities at forecourts where we see the greatest demand without needing to make significant investments in today’s fixed technologies and infrastructure. The opportunity also to explore options for providing charging services away from our existing retail sites makes FreeWire an ideal partner for BP,” stated Erginbilgic.
Project director of electric vehicles for the company, Graeme Cooper, said that BP has identified 50 sites that will allow people to get the most use out of the Mobi stations. “Fifty strategic locations means to an extent that 96% of UK drivers would be able to drive in any direction from any location in the UK and be in 50 miles of an ultra-rapid small charger … To an extent we can probably allay range anxiety,” he said.