Business

BP buys UK's largest car charging firm Chargemaster

Charging point BP branded Image copyright BP

Oil giant BP is buying the UK's largest electric charging network, Chargemaster, for £130m.

BP runs 1,200 petrol forecourts, but said earlier this year it expected renewable energy to be the fastest-growing fuel source.

It said the number of electric vehicles in the UK is set to grow from 135,000 at present to 12 million by 2040.

The move echoes one made last year by rival Shell, which bought car charging company NewMotion.

All leading car manufacturers are moving into electric vehicle production. Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker, has said it will offer an electric version of all its 300 models by 2030.

Chargemaster, which will be rebranded BP Chargemaster, currently has 6,500 charging points and also sells electric vehicle charging points for home use.

BP said the acquisition was an important move towards the company becoming the leading provider of energy to low carbon vehicles.


Analysis

By Theo Leggett, business correspondent

Image copyright Getty Images

For a global giant like BP, £130m is small change. But the acquisition of Chargemaster could turn out to be lucrative.

The logic is simple. Electric cars aren't yet a very common sight - but they're expected to become much more so.

BP itself thinks there will be 12 million on UK roads by 2040. They'll need access to chargers.

Meanwhile, BP has a network of 1,200 service stations - and those service stations are also retail outlets.

If a third of drivers no longer need to visit them, they'll become a lot less profitable.

That's why BP says a major goal of the deal is to step up the deployment of fast and ultra-fast chargers on UK forecourts.

It will give those millions of drivers a reason to keep on visiting - and help keep the tills ticking over.


David Nichols, a spokesman for BP, told the BBC: "We have no doubt that the electric vehicle market is growing and will become a significant part of the transport sector in future.

"Chargemaster is a leader in the UK market. We want to learn from them, and eventually, yes, grow the business worldwide."

It said one of its goals was to speed up charging capability to enable chargers capable of delivering 100 miles of range within 10 minutes.

Chargemaster, which was founded in 2008, runs POLAR, the largest public charging network in the UK. It has more than 40,000 customers, some of whom pay by monthly subscription.

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