BP to trial mobile electric car charging at forecourts after £3.6m investment

Oil giant BP is to trial mobile charging points for electric vehicles at its UK forecourts this year after investing five million US dollars (£3.6 million) in US-based firm FreeWire Technologies.

BP said it would roll out FreeWire's mobile rapid chargers across a number of petrol stations in the UK and Europe throughout 2018 as it looks to tap into the growing demand for electric-powered cars.

Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive of BP's downstream division, said the mobile charger technology would allow the group to be more flexible as growth in the sector emerges, while also looking at opportunities away from forecourts.

He said: "EV (electric vehicle) charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.

"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," he added.

The investment is being made through BP Ventures, which identifies and invests in private, high-growth technology companies.

BP Ventures has invested over 400 million US dollars (£284 million) in corporate venturing since 2006 and has 42 active investments in its current portfolio.

San Francisco-based FreeWire specialises in mobile and networked energy storage.

The deal comes as Britain's Committee on Climate Change has said 60% of new cars and vans must be electric by 2030 to meet carbon targets cost-effectively.

The most recent figures showed that alternatively fuelled vehicles had a 4.7% share of the new car market last year, up from 3.3% in 2016.

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