Charging success depends on speed and convenience

025 Nov 2023

As electric company cars and van become more widespread, fleets are demanding rapid and ultra-rapid chargers to minimise downtime and protect productivity

If the first wave of electric vehicle (EV) adoption was characterised by cars with modest ranges that charged at home, the second wave looks very different. The rapid transition of fleets to electric powertrains is creating a tsunami of electric company cars, capable of longer ranges and faster-charging, with an increasing number driven by employees unable to install a home charger because off-street parking is not available to them.

The result is a surge in demand for convenient, ultra-fast public charging, both close to home and on the road, as drivers undertake longer journeys that require mid trip battery top-ups and charges.

“What we hear from our fleet customers is that they want rapid and ultra-fast charging,” said Jens Andersen, Chief Network Officer at bp pulse. “They are on the go, transient, busy, and they want to minimise their downtime. Fleets don’t want downtime, it’s a cost.”

bp pulse is committed to developing its high-speed charging network, already one of the largest in the country, with plans to invest up to £1 billion by the end of the decade to enable the electrification of mobility. An ultra-fast 150kW charger is capable of adding 100 miles of range in around 15 minutes (depending on the vehicle, its charge management software, its battery, the weather and driving conditions).

Need advice and support from our experienced team?

Whatever stage you’re at in your transition planning, our EV experts are here to guide and support you. Get in touch or request for one of our team to come back to you below

The focus is on EV charging hubs that serve ‘transient’ drivers at key infrastructure points and along the UK’s strategic road network, as well as city locations where fleets with specific high-speed charging needs, such as ride-hailing companies and last-mile delivery operators, need to top up their batteries in minutes to avoid the lost productivity of downtime.

This requires the construction of charging infrastructure in the right locations where fleets need to charge and with bays large enough for electric light commercial vehicles to use.

As the size of batteries increases and the speed at which they can charge accelerates, so does the demand for ultra-fast charging.

Examples of this are its new location in Kettering, featuring 10 ultra-fast 300kW chargers, equating to 20 150kW charge points. Its new NEC site has 30 150kW charge points, and further hubs have opened this year at Macclesfield, Tamworth, Mansfield and Hull as the company accelerates its nationwide coverage.

“We are working hard to make our bp pulse network available at bp retail sites and we will add hundreds of hubs between now and 2030,” said Andersen.

Alongside speed and location of charging, the other requirement of EV drivers is for certainty – confidence that there will be a spare charge point when they stop at a charging station, and faith that it will be in service.

“Drivers increasingly want to see more than one charger at a station, so they are asking for hubs where there is a higher degree of certainty that there will be a charger available to them,” said Andersen, adding that the bp pulse app can show drivers whether a charge point is vacant or occupied before they arrive.

“And we are working tirelessly to improve the reliability of our existing network, updating, replacing, or removing charge points that are unreliable. We are upgrading our legacy estate and installing the latest technology, and our charger uptime is now around 98%.”

Back office systems instantly create alerts if a charge point fails, and bp pulse has its own team of field service engineers to fix faults quickly.

bp pulse also has a dedicated in-house customer care team to help drivers 24/7 who experience any problems when trying to charge.

Supporting fleets transition to EV is at the core of the mobility transition. This requires the provision of the right infrastructure to give confidence.

“The key for us is to work with fleets, understand their driver needs and work to install hubs in places that support them,” said Andersen.

“By doing this, there’s an opportunity to work together to build capacity and underpin demand. That’s what we are looking for – demand partners.

“That’s how we already work with our ride-hailing partners, creating bespoke offers to make the transition easy.”

Mobility giant Uber has a partnership with bp pulse that includes dedicated charging bays at strategic hubs, giving privileged access to drivers in order to minimise their downtime. These relationships have helped to create a blueprint for how bp pulse can work with fleets to smooth the transition to EV.

“We already work with our partners to give them the best offer available to make sure their drivers come to our network, in terms of location, availability, speed of charging and pricing,” said Andersen.

bp pulse expert is also actively seeking partnerships with fleets that have land and locations which could accommodate a charging hub where they live and work, with the possibility that some chargers would be reserved exclusively for the fleet while others are open to the public.

“The speed of charging is becoming more and more important for these kinds of fleet, which is why we are putting in 300kW and 400kW chargers,” said Andersen.

Drivers also want access to convenience to grab a drink or some food while charging. bp retail sites already provide a wide- ranging convenience offer to service this need.

In addition, new hubs such as Kettering and NEC also provide a prime example, with being co-located with national coffee chain outlets.

“We want to work with all fleets to forge partnerships, understanding how we can service their requirements, where they need hubs and what kind of services their drivers want,” added Andersen.

This becomes a powerful relationship and makes the energy transition feasible for all.

Related articles

Top tips for transitioning fleets to EV


Top tips for transitioning fleets to EV

Missed our recent webinar? Catch up on our expert insights into transitioning your business to electric vehicles

Unveiling the UK's largest public EV charging hub


Unveiling the UK's largest public EV charging hub

The EV Network and bp pulse unveil the UK's largest public EV charging hub at the NEC Birmingham

What are the options for EV fleet charging?


What are the options for EV fleet charging?

Our guide aims to help you identify the ideal charging ecosystem for your operation, informed by insights from fleet managers and drivers