BP's dramatic investment in a 1,200 location network of electric rapid chargers could significantly accelerate adoption, but will it be consumers or fleets that are first to take advantage?
The headline numbers look good. The chargers will be able to deliver 100 miles in 10 minutes. Even for motorway driving this is pretty feasible. Who doesn't stop for at least 10 minutes occasionally on a long journey?
However, we would suspect this is still going to be a challenge for consumers. The emotional pangs of "range anxiety" will not go away over night. It will take a long time for mass adoption and even longer to cycle through the vehicle parc.
On the other hand, for professional fleets this could be a game changer, and they replace their vehicles much more frequently.
Professional drivers don't have as much choice about their vehicles, and their bosses are more prepared to take an economic view of the choice. Most professional drivers do daily mileage well under that which electric vehicles are capable of, and these vehicles are already reaching the point where total cost of ownership is comparable to or even better than combustion engines. The environmental benefit is also becoming a factor, if only due to government policy becoming increasingly strict on emissions.
Royal Mail is already rolling out a trial of 150 electric vans. We can expect other major fleets to follow suit in the next few years.
The only fly in the ointment is the up front capex is much higher, and this will be a big opportunity for financing and leasing providers. We could well see innovative products emerge, for example some providers are offering pay per mile EV, including installing the charging infrastructure on clients' sites.
BP has confirmed it will roll out a network of ultra-fast plug-in car chargers across its 1,200 UK service stations following its acquisition of Chargemaster.