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BP to test mobile electric vehicle chargers in the UK

Image: BP.

Image: BP.

BP is to roll out mobile electric vehicle rapid charging systems at selected retail sites across the UK and Europe after investing US$5 million (£3.53 million) in US-based manufacturer FreeWire Technologies.

The investment into FreeWire’s Mobi Charger units comes from BP Ventures, which identifies and invests in private ‘game-changing’ technology companies to accelerate innovations across the entire energy spectrum.

While primarily focused on emerging technologies in oil and gas, a new strategy incorporating advanced mobility as well as power and storage has seen the cash moved towards the mobile charging company in light of the growing trend towards electric vehicles.

Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive, BP Downstream, said: “Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.

FreeWire’s products, which are pre-charged before being delivered to the car for charging, offers a series of charging options such as the Mobi Charger L2, which delivers 15kW of continuous output split across two plugs, or 30 miles from an hour of charging.

The larger 50kW Mobi Charger DC can deliver 200 miles of charge in an hour, with the company’s cloud-connected systems allowing for planning, management, and control of vehicle charging based on real-time monitoring and response to grid conditions.

Arcady Sosinov, chief executive officer of FreeWire Technologies, said: “The Mobi Charger can be quickly and cost effectively scaled across vast transportation networks — flexibility that delivers benefits all along the EV charging value chain.

“We are thrilled that BP, which is such a significant provider of transportation infrastructure, has acknowledged the promise of our solution through this investment and partnership.”

“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,” Erginbilgic added.

The investment forms part of BP’s response to the changing technologies and consumer behaviours taking hold in the automotive sector as electric vehicles become more commonplace. National Grid has argued that multi-MW EV forecourts could provide some response to a growing need for charging infrastructure, while forecourt operators like Shell has already begun rolling out EV chargers at its own UK refuelling stations.

Meanwhile, a number of charging suppliers have said in the future charging will be far more decentralised with drivers charging at home, work or destination locations including retail spaces.

According to David Gilmour, vice president of BP Ventures, FreeWire’s mobile fast charging technology offers “one of a number of fuelling options that will be needed to address the future of lower carbon mobility”.

“We are excited to be making this investment and to continue working with them, testing customer demand for the product and further developing the offering for the fast growing EV supply equipment market,” he added.