It's almost as if oil giants are worried about what the future might hold...
When Shell, the largest oil company in Europe, bought the continent's largest network of electric vehicle charging stations and an electric utility too, I suggested it was a sign that Big Oil was beginning to see the need to diversify.
Now it appears that BP is following suit. First it signaled that it's scanning the markets for good renewables deals, including a $200 million investment in solar, and now it's invested $5 million in FreeWire, a provider of mobile electric vehicle charging solutions.
True, $5 million is nothing by BP's standards. But the choice of a mobile charging station provider—whose units can be moved as demand patterns change—is certainly an interesting choice. After all, every time I write about a gas station or other business providing electric vehicle charging, commenters will question whether they are in the right spot, and whether drivers will hang around long enough to use them. FreeWire's solutions—which BP will be rolling out at gas stations in the UK and Europe this year—appear to be a charging station attached to battery storage on wheels. And as such, could be redeployed if anticipated demand isn't there, or as the BP press release suggests, to provide offsite "refueling" services to customers elsewhere.
According to The Guardian, BP's latest investment is by no means the only recent development in UK electric vehicle infrastructure. Electric grid operator National Grid has identified 50 sites along the country's major motorways where it wants to locate ultra-rapid charging stations, meaning 96% of the UK population would be within 50 miles of such a spot.
Between that and a separate announcement by Nissan that they are installing 100 vehicle-to-grid charging points in the country to explore how electric cars can actually feed power back to the grid when needed, it would appear that the era of mainstream electric vehicle infrastructure in Britain has well and truly arrived.