BP Forms Joint Venture with Didi Chuxing to Build EV Charging Hubs in China
China's electric vehicle infrastructure will expand in new joint venture with an unlikely partner, petroleum giant BP.
The multinational oil and gas company said on Thursday it would build a network of electric-vehicle charging hubs in China together with transportation provider Didi Chuxing, as London-based BP turns to the world's largest auto market to boost profits, as China transitions from oil to cleaner fuels and battery-powered transportation.
The joint venture could have a wide reach in China. Didi Chuxing operates China's largest ride-hailing network. In 2016, the company took over Uber's ride-hailing business in China, although Uber retains a 18.8 % stake. Didi's platform has 550 million users and more than 600,000 EVs run on it in China, BP said.
Didi's venture with BP will develop charging hubs for its drivers. In the near future, BP will open the hubs to the wider public and add convenience stores, BP said in a statement to Reuters. The venture could build as many as 200 hubs with multiple charging points by the end of 2020, the BP spokesman said.
BP believes the venture can be scaled up to thousands of hubs across China and might eventually include unmanned and remotely controlled sites, separate from BP's roughly 700 retail sites in the country, the spokesman added.
"The lessons we learn here will help us further expand BP's advanced mobility business worldwide, helping drive the energy transition and develop solutions for a low-carbon world."
BP alone operates gas stations and convenience business across 18 countries with more than 18,700 locations.
Retail services at gas stations, such as convenience stores, have become a big revenue generators for oil companies around the world, with retails sales offsetting weakness in oil and gas production.
China is already the world's largest market for electric vehicles with 50% of all electric vehicle sales globally. All of the electric vehicles, including those operating on Didi's ride-hailing platform, will need convenient places to charge.
"As the world's largest EV market, China offers extraordinary opportunities," BP quoted its downstream chief, Tufan Erginbilgic, as saying.
China targeting sales of more than 7 million EVs by 2025 and oil companies and corporate investors from outside the auto industry are betting big on electric vehicles, including in Europe where EV sales are also climbing.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), 79% of the public charging infrastructure is operated by utilities and oil companies in Europe. In the U.S., 62% of the market is managed by EV operators, including ChargePoint, Electrify America, and EVgo.
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