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Why BP Bought $100M Worth of Tesla Charging Hardware


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Normally, when someone talks about Tesla’s Superchargers, it’s assumed that they’ll live at a Tesla station. So far, that assumption has held true, because the company has been too busy building out its own charging network to even consider selling any of the stations. Plus, until recently, Tesla’s charging hardware only worked with Tesla’s cars, so it would have been pointless for anyone else to buy them.

But, things have changed. First, Tesla opened up the design of the company’s proprietary connector, calling it the North American Charging Standard and making it compatible with CCS charging protocols. Then, seeing major problems with CCS charging reliability, manufacturers decided to not only adopt the Tesla connector in North America, but also negotiate (and pay for) access to Tesla’s network.

With the wall between Tesla and non-Tesla EVs coming down, we’ve reached the point where Tesla’s hardware can now be useful for any charging provider. And a recent deal with BP shows that Tesla is willing to sell chargers.

bp pulse, the EV charging business of bp, has announced an exciting deal to acquire ultra-fast charging hardware units from Tesla for a whopping $100 million. This significant investment will not only fuel the expansion of the bp pulse public network across the United States, but will also empower EV fleet customers by deploying chargers at bp’s private depots.

Expect to start seeing these bp pulse-branded chargers show up in a variety of places. The roll-out of bp pulse’s EV charging stations is set to begin in 2024. It will include key sites across the bp family of brands and third-party locations, such as Hertz. Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C. are among the first cities to have installations. Other bp brands that will get these stations include TravelCenters of America, Thorntons, ampm; and Amoco, as well as at bp pulse’s large-scale Gigahub charging sites.

The company also clarified what was meant by “private depots”. Tesla’s chargers will be installed at bp pulse fleet customer depots. By combining bp pulse’s intelligent charge management software, Omega, with Tesla’s fast and reliable chargers, bp pulse gains the ability to oversee the entire EV charging process for fleets, offering a comprehensive solution for its customers worldwide.

“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.”

Any EV with CCS or NACS will be able to charge at these locations. The chargers will feature Tesla’s ‘Magic Dock’, compatible with both North American Charging Standard (NACS) and Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors. This allows EVs from other leading manufacturers to utilize Tesla chargers on the bp pulse network, regardless of whether the vehicle uses CCS or NACS ports.

To enhance user experience, Tesla chargers purchased by bp pulse will now support the Plug and Charge protocol, streamlining and automating payments. As part of Tesla’s existing policy, third-party ultra-fast chargers that meet Tesla’s reliability and functionality standards will be displayed in Tesla’s vehicle UI and apps and bp pulse says the company is committed to upholding these requirements on its network.

“This is another example of how bp pulse is collaborating with leaders across the industry, in areas including real estate, charging technology and automakers, to advance EV infrastructure growth across the US, and to deliver the fast and reliable charging experience we know our customers demand.” Said Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas.” We remain open and committed to expanding alliances with EV industry leaders even further and we look forward to welcoming the growing number of EV drivers across the country to our network.”

The company also plans to go beyond this deal in some big ways. bp pulse plans to expand its fast and reliable charging points at high-demand locations, including airports and major metropolitan areas, in addition to its deal with Tesla. With grant funds from programs like NEVI and CEC, bp will provide charging infrastructure in California, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Kentucky. The company aims to invest $1 billion in America’s EV charging infrastructure by 2030, with $500 million planned for the next two to three years. This investment is part of bp’s focus on bioenergy, convenience, EV charging, hydrogen, renewables, and power.

bp pulse is rapidly expanding its high-speed charging network worldwide to boost consumer confidence in electric driving. With a 150% increase in charge points since 2019, bp continues to grow the network across multiple countries. The focus on rapid and ultra-fast charging aligns with customer demands for DC fast charging, making Level 2 charging a waste of time for the company. In the UK, bp pulse is one of the largest charging point operators, while in Germany, Aral pulse leads as an ultrafast charge point operator. In the US, bp pulse offers EV charging and energy management solutions for fleets, optimizing energy costs and vehicle utilization.

But Why Tesla Equipment?

While many fanboys would like to blame CCS charging problems on the connector itself, saying it’s “inelegant” and wasteful of space, the issue really doesn’t lie with the connectors. Companies like Electrify America bought a lot of crappy hardware from third party providers, and it took years to see that they’d fail under increasingly heavy EV traffic. Would putting NACS connectors on those broken stations make any difference? Not really.

But, Tesla seems to have done a decent job testing charging stations for heavier use a lot earlier in the process. V3 Superchargers have proven to be very reliable, and the upcoming v4 stations should be even better. Given all of the experience and, more importantly, change based on that experience, Tesla’s gear is just good stuff. It would have made no sense for bp pulse to pass up on a chance to snag some of it for the company’s own network.

Featured image provided by bp pulse.

 


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