Charge Points – What Exactly Are Oil Companies Doing?

Car charging forecourt

As we move closer to 2030 and the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, there is something that is certain. If the big oil companies don’t innovate their ideas regarding charge points, they are going to be in trouble.

Here I will look at some of the big names in the oil industry to see what they are doing about charge points right now. 

Background – The State of Play

Petrol and diesel are both extracted from oil. This oil is taken from the earth and is then refined to produce the fuels required. It is no secret that big oil means big profits. Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai have all become mega rich from selling their rich oil supplies abroad.

However, as more and more people switch to electric vehicles, there is less demand for petrol or diesel and, in turn, less demand for oil itself. This is why it has been so hard to get the Arabic nations to go all in on green initiatives put forward by other countries at the COP conferences.

The number of petrol stations in the UK fell from 18,000 in 1990 to around 8,000 at the beginning of 2023. You can expect this number to continue falling over the next few years too. So, companies such as BP and Shell need to find another way to bring in profits. Charge Points seems to be the logical step forward.

Blue charge points with blue sky

BP Charge Points – Pulse

BP joined in the electric car revolution in 2018 when they bought out the charge points company, ChargeMaster. Since then, the company has been expanding quite rapidly, even taking the BP Pulse name to other countries such as the USA, China and Germany. Yet it is in the UK where most of the efforts are being focused.

At the time of writing, BP Pulse has just under 9,000 public charge points. The focus of these charge points are to provide rapid and stress free charging. Expansion is certainly in the company’s mind though. By 2030, BP has stated that they will have installed 100,000 electric charge points across the country. This is a big undertaking considering they only have less than 7 years to go.

Shell – ReCharge

Shell went a similar way to BP by acquiring an already well established charge points firm. In this instance, that company was NewMotion, the largest EV charge point provider in Europe at the time. 

Again, like their competitors at BP, Shell have stated that they will have installed 100,000 public charge points by 2030. These two oil companies will alone provide half of the number of charge points that will be required in the UK by 2030 when the new laws come into force.

Texaco and Esso

Esso has the most petrol stations in the UK. Texaco is in fourth place in the list of fuelling station ownership. Despite this fact, and the precarious position that the ban on new petrol and diesel cars puts them in, neither company has bought a charging network or introduced their own network.

However, both of these companies do have some charge points on a few of their forecourts, supplied by companies such as InstaVolt and Genie Point. This is not enough to save them. If they do not enter the charge points game soon, they will be in serious trouble.

Big Supermarkets

I just wanted to add a little about the big supermarkets as well. Companies such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons. They do belong in this blog because they all rank amongst the top 10 petrol station owners in the UK.

You may not think that the supermarkets will be greatly affected by petrol stations being shut. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Petrol sales at the big supermarkets actually make more than any other single department, and by a very long way. It can be seen, then, why the supermarkets have, by and large, been pretty good at installing rapid charge points at their stores. Pod Point and Genie Point have been the most prevalent at the supermarkets.

Even though they are making an effort to get ready for the big changes, it is hard to see how they will be able to maintain the same level of profits that the petrol stations bring in.

charge points with petrol station items in background

In Conclusion

Some of the Big Oil companies are making serious strides towards electrification. Others seem to have their heads firmly buried in the sand. Companies such as Shell and BP have a long way to go still in order to change the public perception of them. Oil spill after oil spill has done serious harm to their reputations. However, if they are to install as many charging points as they have stated, this will go a long way to the public opening their hearts once again.

Supply and demand is a big focus for oil companies. Both of which will be dwindling as more people switch to electric vehicles. Charge points are where the demand is heading and where the focus needs to be. As petrol stations close and oil prices rise, more innovation is required. With only six and a half years to go, time is running out.

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