BP to buy UK’s ‘largest’ electric vehicle charging business

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BP has entered into an agreement to purchase electric vehicle (EV) charging business Chargemaster, the oil giant said Thursday.

BP described Chargemaster as operating the largest EV charging network in the U.K. Founded in 2008, the company runs a public network of more than 6,500 EV charging points and designs, builds, sells and maintains EV charging units, BP said. 

“Bringing together the U.K.’s leading fuel retailer and its largest charging company, BP Chargemaster will deliver a truly differentiated offer for the country’s growing number of electric vehicle owners,” BP’s Tufan Erginbilgic said in a statement.

The market for EVs is expanding, with BP estimating that there will be 12 million on U.K. roads by 2040, up from roughly 135,000 in 2017. Customers will require “convenient access” to both fast and ultra-fast charging systems in order to accelerate the adoption of EVs, BP said.

A key goal of BP Chargemaster will be the rollout of an ultra-fast charging infrastructure. This is set to include “rapid chargers” that are able to provide vehicles with 100 miles of range in only 10 minutes. BP added that U.K. drivers could expect to see chargers on gas station forecourts during the next 12 months.

Chargemaster operates POLAR, the U.K.’s biggest public charging network, which has more than 40,000 customers, BP said. The business also supplies home charging points throughout Britain.

“The acquisition of Chargemaster by BP marks a true milestone in the move towards low carbon motoring in the U.K.,” David Martell, Chargemaster’s chief executive, said. 

Martell added that the strength and scale of BP would help the business maintain its “market-leading position and grow the national POLAR charging network to support the large range of exciting new electric vehicles that are coming to market in the next couple of years.”

Upon completion of the acquisition, employees of Chargemaster will remain employed by BP Chargemaster or its subsidiaries.

Thursday’s announcement marks the latest foray by BP into the electric charging sector. In January, it invested $5 million in FreeWire Technologies, a business that manufactures mobile, rapid-charging systems for EVs.