Does bp’s purchase of $100 million worth of Tesla EV chargers signal that the British oil giant is preparing for a future beyond petroleum? Has it decided to join ‘em instead of trying to beat ‘em?
Well, not just yet. The company has said it plans to invest “up to $1 billion in EV charging across the US by 2030,” but it’s also expected to pour between $14 billion and $18 billion annually into fossil fuels over the same period. Last February, the company reported a record profit of $28 billion for 2022, and at the same time backed down on plans to reduce oil and gas output and carbon emissions by 2030.
Neither company has specified a timeframe over which the $100 million will be invested, nor have they said how many chargers that figure represents. CNET‘s Antuan Goodwin offered a back-of-a-napkin estimate that bp’s 100 big ones will buy it around 1,000 Tesla chargers. That would vastly expand bp pulse’s charging presence in the US, where it currently operates around 28 public fast charging locations, each with two to three charge points. However, it’s small potatoes compared to the company’s presence in Europe and the UK, where it operates some 27,000 Level 2 and DCFC charge points. It won’t put bp into the US big leagues of charging with Tesla, which operates over 20,000 DC fast charging ports nationwide; Electrify America, which runs 3,500; Evgo (2,600) and Chargepoint (2,000).
However, the deal represents a move into a new market for Tesla, which although it is believed to have sold a few Supercharger stations to third parties in the past, has never done so on this scale.
In fact, it’s such a big deal that Tesla, which rarely has much to say to the press, offered a comment! “At Tesla, we’re driven to enable great charging experiences for all EV owners,” said Senior Director of Charging Infrastructure Rebecca Tinucci. “Selling our fast charging hardware is a new step for us, and one we’re looking to expand in support of our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
The Brits will use the Tesla hardware to expand the bp pulse public network in the US, while also supporting EV fleet customers by deploying chargers at their private depots, together with bp pulse’s Omega charge management software.
The Tesla chargers bp is buying have an output of 250 kW, and will be branded, installed and operated by bp pulse. They’ll be fitted with Tesla’s Magic Dock, which is compatible with both Tesla and CCS connectors, and will support the Plug and Charge protocol.
The roll-out is planned to begin in 2024. Locations will include bp gas station brands, including TravelCenters of America, Thorntons, ampm and Amoco, as well as bp pulse’s Gigahub charging sites in metropolitan areas, and sites run by partners including Hertz. The first installations are slated for Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC.
“Strengthening the bp pulse network with Tesla’s industry-leading hardware is a major step forward in our ambitions for high speed, open access charging infrastructure in the US, and advances our ambition to delivering an exceptional customer experience,” said Richard Bartlett, Global CEO of bp pulse. “Combined with our vast network of convenience and mobility sites on and off the highway, this collaboration with Tesla will bring fast and reliable charging to EV drivers when and where they need it.”