There was a time where the world’s largest gas and oil companies were vehemently trying to stop advancements towards electric vehicles. These days, however, things are shifting. Big Oil is starting to make large investments into the electric vehicle, EV, industry, even though it’s likely that the EV industry will ultimately be the demise of the gas and oil industry. One of these companies is British Petroleum, commonly called BP.
Over the past couple of years, BP has rebranded itself away from the British Petroleum moniker, and now it refers to itself as an “energy company.” In other words, it is positioning itself for a future transition with one hand in the EV industry and one in the traditional gasoline-powered vehicle market.
Recently, BP purchased another company, Chargemaster. It is the largest company in the UK that is producing EV charging stations. There are more than 1200 BP gas stations in the UK, and BP is planning on installing the Chargemaster EV charging stations at each of them. The main priority for the company is to install high-powered chargers that can charge electric batteries in cars very quickly. Though, it would still take longer than filling up the tank with gasoline.
As of now, BP only has plans to do this for the gas stations in the UK, but it’s likely that there would be a transition to the BP stations in the US, too. Currently, in the UK, about half of the profit that BP has comes from things purchased in the stations other than gasoline. The company is hoping that the customers that are waiting around for their cars to charge would hang around the station a bit. This brings more opportunities for them to shop for automotive accessories, gas station food, and drinks. In the US, the profits at BP stations from items other than gasoline are even higher, so it’s thought that this business model could be a good thing.
In addition to this, BP has put $5 million in a US company, FreeWire, that offers mobile phone chargers. The company plans to install these free charging stations in gas stations in the UK and Europe to test out customer demand. If things go well, it’s likely that the company will invest more into this technology.
BP is certainly looking into the future, and it has already said that it expects that by 2035, there will be more than 100 million electric cars on the road. In the UK, it believes that there will be more than 12 million by 2040. As of 2017, there were 135,000 EVs in the UK.
BP is not the only oil and gas company that is looking into the EV industry. ExxonMobil is, too, but making a more cautious investment into the market. A French company, Total, also has its hands in the industry after buying Saft, a battery company, in 2016 for $1.1 billion.
NewMotion, a Dutch company, was purchased by Royal Dutch Shell, and it now manages more than 30,000 charging points. Like BP, Shell is planning on installing charge points at its gas stations. It will start with 80 of them across Europe, and then watch to see how they perform. Shell is estimating that over the next couple of years, more than 800,000 barrels of oil would be displaced by the use of electric vehicles.
Things are a bit different in the US, however. There are thousands of local electric companies, which control the delivery and distribution of electricity. On top of this, car manufacturers are offering low-cost, or even free charging, which definitely complicates things. Would you really drive your electric car several miles to a BP station if there is a free charger around the corner? Probably not.
It is very likely that over the next decade, that you will certainly see some EV charging stations at your local gas stations. However, most of the charging stations that are being installed are near other services, such as hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants. There are also charging stations popping up around major retailers like Target and Walmart. However, there is also the fact that these brick-and-mortar retail locations are getting smaller thanks to the ease of online shopping, so it’s possible that there could definitely be an opening in the market for gas stations that want to add EV charging.