ONE OF Britain’s biggest fuel companies has unveiled plans to fit electric car charge points in forecourts amid government pressure to cut reliance on diesel and petrol vehicles.
BP said it was in talks with manufacturers to offer battery-charging facilities in its network of fuel stations over the coming years.
One of its main rivals, Shell, has already launched a pilot scheme to install charging docks at a handful of forecourts in Britain and the Netherlands.
The move comes weeks after the government unveiled plans to require petrol station chains to install charge points to boost sales of green cars. It was revealed in the Queen’s Speech that the government would legislate to increase dramatically the number of forecourts on motorways and main roads that provide recharging facilitates for electric vehicles. However, there are fears that fuel retailers have been too slow to adapt to electric charging for fear that it will erode fuel sales.
Zap Map, the online service that tracks recharging points across Britain, estimated yesterday that only “around a dozen” traditional petrol stations were fitted with battery-charging facilities. The vast majority of charging points are installed on roadsides, in parking bays and at car parks in supermarkets and motorway service stations.
Estimates suggest there will be 100m electric vehicles worldwide by 2035
Bob Dudley, BP chief executive, said the company was in talks to offer chargers at its global network of 17,000 fuel stations. “We have discussions going on with a lot of the manufacturers to have a tie-up with our retail network for charging,” he said.
However, BP said that it was too soon to reveal details on the charging points, including when they will be installed. Mr Dudley said the company will “be ready for this world but we’re not going to dive in too deeply”. This was seen as a reference to BP’s previously unsuccessful ventures into renewable energy, including solar.
At the end of July, the government announced that sales of new conventional diesel and petrol vehicles would be banned in the UK from 2040. Ministers said that new diesel cars would also be hit with higher taxes to fund measures that would cut pollution in dozens of towns and cities.
It is estimated that as many as 100,000 new electric or hybrid cars will be sold in Britain this year. However, this is still less than 5% of the market, with the vast majority of motorists still relying on diesel and petrol. BP estimates that the number of electric vehicles will grow significantly in the coming decades, with suggestions that there will be 100m worldwide by 2035, up from 1.2m in 2015.
Last month, Shell said it would install electric car chargers at petrol stations in the UK before the end of this year. The first chargers, in London and Derby, will be able to provide as much as 80% power in about 30 minutes.
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
This article first appeared in The Times