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BP Pulse commits £2m to upgrade old and unreliable EV chargers

Lawrence Allan

Written By Lawrence Allan

Audi e-tron on charge
  • BP Pulse is aiming to upgrade defunct and outdated charging units across the UK
  • The charging company wants to improve electric vehicle infrastructure
  • New vehicles that are solely petrol or diesel-powered will be banned from sale in 2030

BP Pulse is working with local authorities across the UK to upgrade public charging points with faster, more reliable systems - meaning EV drivers will be able to charge in more places, more easily. The charging company, formerly known as BP Chargemaster has committed £2m in total.

The company has already agreed to more than £400,000 in infrastructure investment to replace more than 50 charge points, which are typically owned by local authorities and were originally installed with Government funding a decade ago as part of the Plugged in Places scheme.

Ten years have passed since the first significant roll-out of public charging infrastructure under the Plugged in Places scheme and many of the early charge points were not installed with long-term sustainability in mind. Therefore, much of the UK’s charging network has suffered from under-investment - leaving EV drivers with charge points that are no longer usable.

"A lot of those early charging points were installed with an operations and maintenance agreement that only covered a period of a few years," said a BP Pulse spokesperson, "In many cases, the local authorities were not able to prioritise the extension of these maintenance agreements when these original agreements expired. What this means is that if the charge points developed any faults outside of the original period, there was often no way of a charge point operator fixing them, as they were no longer under contract to maintain them."

In Milton Keynes, for example, BP Pulse has now replaced the majority of legacy third-party manufacturer rapid chargers, upgrading them to the supplier’s own UK-made 50kW chargers, including contactless payment terminals. The upgrade means that BP Pulse can provide more effective operational support and ongoing maintenance of the network.

Further discussions are already underway relating to an additional £750,000 of funding, which could see an additional 300 units upgraded.

In total, the chargepoint provider has made £2 million available and says will work closely with local authorities and other charge point owners over the coming months to replace older infrastructure as quickly as possible.

Matteo de Renzi, CEO of BP Pulse, said: “While we remain focused on expanding our network, in particular with the proliferation of convenient ultra-fast charging, we know that many of the issues experienced by drivers come from legacy charging infrastructure, so our investment in upgrading it will significantly improve the experience of EV drivers across the country.” 

The news follows Ford’s announcement that it’s tripled its electric car charging network from 3000 to 9500. The carmaker expanded its partnership with BP by adding BP Pulse to its Ford Pass charging network.

A total of 108,205 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in the UK in 2020, representing a 180 per cent year-on-year increase.