Volkswagen and bp Announce New Partnership for the Rapid Rollout of Fast EV Charging Infrastructure in Europe

Volkswagen and bp Announce New Partnership for the Rapid Rollout of Fast EV Charging Infrastructure in Europe

Author: Eric Walz   

The lack of convenient electric vehicle charging infrastructure is one of the barriers to  widespread EV adoption. It's one of the reasons that automakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Kia and Fisker Inc formed partnerships with EV charging provider Electrify America to offer their electric vehicle customers access to complimentary charging for the first two years of vehicle ownership.

However, in addition to standard charging, more EVs built today can charge at higher current DC fast chargers, which can charge a vehicle's battery to 80% in 15 minutes or less. So Volkswagen Group is teaming up with bp in Europe to rapidly roll out DC fast charging locations for the automaker's electric vehicle customers. The strategic partnership is designed to boost the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) across Europe. 

bp is rapidly expanding its EV charging network at its conveniently located network of retail sites. EV drivers will be able to charge in safe, well-lit stations with access to additional services such as food and drinks for their journeys, as well as restrooms.

"Volkswagen has been pioneering the transformation to e-mobility across Europe," said Herbert Diess, Volkswagen's chief executive officer. "Today we have the broadest offer of electric cars in the market and sold more EVs in the region than any other carmaker last year. Investing in everything from software, to batteries and charging is part of our strategy to make individual mobility safer, more convenient and fully climate-neutral."

Volkswagen and bp just unveiled the first of these new Flexpole EV chargers in Dusseldorf, Germany. The two companies aim to transform access to EV charging in key European markets by rapidly building a fast charging network across Europe by 2024.

The VW Flexpole 150kW charging units each feature two charge points and can be installed almost anywhere. The Flexpole units can be directly connected to a low voltage grid which removes the requirement for a dedicated electric substation and more complex and expensive construction work. 

This can significantly reduce installation times while still providing fast charging speeds of up to 150kW, enough to deliver up to 160km (100 miles) of driving range in as little as 10 minutes, depending on the vehicle. The Flexpole units also feature an integrated battery storage system, which also lessens the reliance on the grid during peak times.

"As we promised at our "Power Day", we are driving the expansion of charging infrastructure in Europe at high speed,"  said Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group and CEO of Volkswagen Group Components. "Together with bp, we will bring thousands of fast-charging stations to life within a very short time. Rapid expansion of the charging network is crucial now. To make that happen, our pioneering flexible, fast chargers offer a perfect solution, since the time and costs required for installation are minimal."

The first phase of the roll-out will see up to an additional 4,000 charge points at bp's Aral-branded gas stations and retail stores in Germany and bp retail sites in the UK over the next 24 months. By the end 2024, up to 8,000 charge points could be available across Germany, the UK and other European countries, according to Volkswagen.

Aral is Germany's leading fuel brand and the country's third-largest fast-food retailer. The numerous Aral locations will help make EV charging as convenient as filling up with gas in a conventional vehicle.

Each charger location will be integrated into the navigation and in-car apps of Volkswagen, Seat and ŠKODA vehicles, as well as Volkswagen's own charging application, Elli, which will make it much easier for drivers to find nearby chargers. 

However the chargers are not just for VW customers, drivers of other brands of EVs will be able to use the new chargers as part of the bp pulse and Aral pulse network. Bp Pulse is one of the largest electric vehicle charging providers in the UK.

Volkswagen aims to achieve 70% battery electric vehicle sales by 2030, so these important strategic partnerships will help ensure its future EV customers have access to convenient and well maintained charging locations.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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