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BP Just Bought the UK's Biggest Electric Car Charging Network

It’s been almost a year since the UK pledged to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040. That decision has been bolstered by some of the country’s leading oil and gas companies jumping on the electric bandwagon. 

Now, BP has taken a significant step on the journey towards more environmentally friendly transport in Britain. 

BP has bought the UK’s biggest electric car charging network, Chargemaster, which has a network of more than 6,500 charging points across the country. 

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David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster, said the deal “marks a true milestone in the move towards low-carbon motoring in the UK.” 

And Tufan Erginbilgic, the chief executive of BP’s downstream division — meaning the part of the business that includes petrol stations — added: “At BP we believe that fast and convenient charging is critical to support the successful adoption of electric vehicles.” 

Erginbilgic said the deal would “deliver a truly differentiated offer for the country’s growing number of electric vehicle owners.” 

Read more: UK Will Ban All New Petrol and Diesel Cars by 2040

It will mean that fast chargers will be rolled out at BP's 1,200 forecourts over the coming year. And BP will reportedly be prioritising ultra-fast 150KW charging. 

In non-electric vehicle lingo, the ultra-fast chargers add between 450 and 600 miles of range per hour of charging — enough to get a car around 100 miles of range in 10 minutes of charging. 

Meanwhile, charging a car at home usually takes between six and 12 hours, without an upgraded charging point. 

The reportedly £130 million deal is an indication that major oil producers are looking to be involved in the increasing popularity of low-carbon vehicles. 

Read more: For the First Time Since 2000, CO2 Emissions From Cars Sold in Britain Just Rose

The new deal is part of a £382 million package that BP has pledged to spend on low-carbon activities, although the Guardian pointed out that that’s not a whole lot bearing in mind BP will be spending around $16 billion this year. 

Right now, there are more than 140,000 electric vehicles in Britain, which are mostly hybrid vehicles. 

But BP reckons the number of electric vehicles in Britain is going to hit 12 million by 2040 — when the UK’s pledged ban comes into play. 

Meanwhile, energy research organisation Bloomberg New Energy Finance believes over 50% of UK cars will be electric by 2040. 

And traditional oil and gas companies are looking to get their share of that market. 

Read more: Every Car in London Costs the NHS £8,000 Because Air Pollution Blows

BP has also recently invested in a US-based electric vehicle charging station manufacturer as well as in a battery startup, according to electric transportation news site Electrek.

Meanwhile, Shell has also been taking steps into the electric vehicle domain. It opened its first electric vehicle charging points in 2017 and, in October, in bought one of the largest electric vehicle providers in Europe, NewMotion, with over 30,000 chargers.

And the UK’s second largest independent operator, Motor Fuel Group, has also pledged to offer rapid chargers to drivers, according to Sky News

Read more: France Is Banning Gasoline-Powered Cars by 2040

“Traditional oil companies know that they cannot afford to ignore this shift from internal combustion engine vehicles,” said Erik Fairbairn, chief executive and founder of Chargemaster rival Pod Point.

He added that the BP deal was “testament to the fact the future of transport is electric.” 

The UK announced its future ban on the sale of diesel and petrol cars in July 2017, as part of a £3 billion plan to tackle air pollution — which leads to the premature deaths of 40,000 people in the UK every year, according to the Royal College of Physicians, as well as its environmental cost. 

“We have to get rid of petrol and diesel cars off our roads if we’re going to make sure not only we deal with the health problems that air pollution causes, but also that we meet our climate change targets,” said environment secretary Michael Gove, announcing the launch.

Read more: UK Makes Last-Ditch Effort to Avoid Steep Air Pollution Fines

Earlier in 2017, France also pledged to ban the sale of cars that run on fossil fuels by 2040, in order to transition to a carbon-neutral society by 2050. 

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