“The switchover to EVs is coming. We’re past the tipping point”, says David Newton, as BP Magazine meets him at BP Chargemaster’s current headquarters near London Luton Airport. Through the office window, planes can be seen leaving the runway, but it’s a different vehicle that Newton is preparing for take-off.
As CEO of the UK’s largest charging network, the retailer by background is behind the roll-out of hundreds of 150kW-ultra-fast chargers to many of BP’s forecourts across the UK. The first of many ultra-fast chargers are now live on a BP retail site in Cranford, close to another airport at Heathrow in West London.
Charging can be done in just 10 minutes
Newton hopes this, the first of 400 to be installed over the next few years, will be an important step for the market. Ultra-fast 150kW chargers are key to consumer’s embracing the EV revolution, he believes.
“By investing in ultra-fast charging, we’re trying to encourage adoption for more people. The idea is that they can go out and buy an EV safe in the knowledge that if they do so, they have a charging solution that we know will work for them because it is similar in nature to the fuelling experience they have today with petrol cars. Making it similar in experience is largely dependent on the speed of charging,” he says.
A national network is key to widespread EV adoption
Newton sees the convenience as another important factor towards wider EV use. And thankfully, it’s a factor that’s already designed into BP’s forecourts, from roadside location to the range of food on offer.
“BP already has some of the best forecourt locations in the UK. By putting ultra-fast chargers at these convenient sites, we are providing EV drivers with the same benefits enjoyed by petrol car motorists.
“We want to be the first company to offer a real network of forecourt chargers, not just single sites. Rather than the single 50kW chargers you typically see now, we’re going for two to four 150kW chargers at BP forecourts. We want to be in a position where consumers see BP forecourts as front of mind for fast EV charging,” says Newton.
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The ultra-fast chargers at BP’s forecourts are just the latest in a string of investments and innovations since BP acquired Chargemaster in the summer of 2018. Since that time, the company has:
“Everything we are doing is focused on how we improve the size and scope of the network, how we enhance the customer experience, and how we develop the products and services that customers are going to value and want to have,” says Newton.
To help achieve this, BP Chargemaster is moving 25 miles up the road to a new, purpose-built facility in Milton Keynes. The new headquarters will house both the main office (including the customer services and homecharge teams) and manufacturing facilities, tripling the size of the existing HQ, and growing the technical workforce.
Newton explains the move: “Milton Keynes is the UK’s electric vehicle capital, it is a centre for technology and innovation, it’s a member of the Go Ultra Low scheme that the government runs, our EV experience centre is based there, and so too is BP’s retail business. When you put all that together, it’s a natural location for us to go to.”
From 0 to 60 seconds: watch the first BPChargemaster ultra-fast charger get connected
Electrifying footage of the installation of an ultra-fast charger
So, what are the projections for the growth of EVs in the UK? “We’re gearing up for EVs to grow from the 200,000 on UK roads today to 6-8 million in 10 years’ time,” says Newton.
"We aim to be ahead of the curve in creating a business that can help people switch to EVs as the world moves to a low carbon future.”
The new BP pump
As well as accelerating EV adoption in the UK, BP has partnered with leading mobility platform DiDi to develop a new charging network in China – home to more than half of the world’s EVs. Find out more below.