Helping to keep EV fleets on the road

024 Nov 2023

Public electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK is about to receive a shot in the arm.

Quietly, in the background, work has been taking place to secure land to expand bp pulse’s network of rapid and ultra-fast EV charging hubs, with 150kW chargers capable of adding up to 100 miles of range in around 15 minutes (depending on the vehicle, its charge management software, its battery, the weather and driving conditions).

This type of facility is a game-changer for businesses whose drivers rarely return to base or who are unable to charge at home.

“Downtime is one of the biggest focus areas of any fleet because, invariably, it is costing money one way or the other so availability of the charger and speed of charger are critical,” says Adrian Brabazon, head of UK fleet solutions at bp. Private hire, courier, taxi, ride-hailing and utility fleets doing high, regional mileage are typically the ones that do the most on-the-road charging and bp pulse is helping major fleet operators like Uber and Addison Lee to keep their charging downtime to a minimum.

Since opening its first EV charging hub on Park Lane in London in 2021, bp pulse has opened a hub at Gatwick in 2022, and partnered with the EV Network to open hubs in Macclesfield, Tamworth, Mansfield, Hull and Kettering. The latter features 10 300kW DC chargers, with the ability to charge up to 20 cars simultaneously.

A new charging hub at the NEC Birmingham, the largest EV charging hub in the UK, opened on 7 September.

The hub features more than 180 charge points (30 ultra-fast charge points and 150 AC points), as well as a large drive-thru coffee shop, operated by a national chain, to cater for visitors while they wait for their vehicles to charge.

This is just the start as bp pulse intends to open hundreds of charging hubs in other locations around the UK by the end of 2030 as part of an up to £1 billion investment in its public network.”

We have a clear roadmap over the next two to three years to introduce these hubs along the strategic road network, and to bring charging hubs into specific cities,” says Brabazon.

Site location is determined by EV ownership, traffic and demand. “Fleets are key to the development because we’re not going to lay down infrastructure that’s not going to be utilised,” says Brabazon. “Fleets are out on the road every single day so they are at the forefront of the transition.”

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bp pulse already has one of the largest charging networks in the UK, and, importantly, approximately one of the highest proportions of rapid and ultra-rapid devices. “70% of the UK population lives within five miles radius of a bp pulse rapid or ultra-fast charger so we’re putting down charging infrastructure where the demand is,” says Brabazon.

Being one of the first to market meant reliability was a challenge a few years ago due to outdated technology but bp has since invested a lot of time and money upgrading infrastructure.

“Our reliability is now up to 97%, a big improvement from where we were two-to- three years ago,” says Brabazon.

Broader network coverage is available through the bp Fuel & Charge card, which was recently expanded to include Ionity, Osprey, Fastned, Chargepoint EV, EV Box and Allego, giving fleets access to more than 12,000 charge points at competitive rates.

The Fuel & Charge card can be integrated with the bp app, giving drivers the ability to locate bp pulse chargers and the charge point operators bp is roaming with.

Fleet managers benefit from access to reporting and can order additional cards for vehicles transitioning to electric.

“Not many fleets are going to transition their fleet overnight, it’s going to be a period of time, so the Fuel & Charge card can be used for both traditional fuelling purposes and charging, and all the information, the data, the invoicing is captured together,” says Brabazon.

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