BP and Shell lead the charge to­wards EV top-ups, but there’s no end in sight – yet – for fos­sil-fuel sales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Contents - Mur­ray Scul­lion

Oil com­pa­nies have an­nounced plans – as widely an­tic­i­pated – to move their fuel sta­tions in the UK to­wards elec­tric ve­hi­cle charg­ing. Bri­tish driv­ers will soon see new elec­tric car charg­ing sock­ets at Shell and BP fuel sta­tions up and down the coun­try.

The ma­jor sup­pli­ers have re­acted quickly to the lat­est Gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives to ban­ish non­hy­brid petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and say charg­ing points are set to go live along­side tra­di­tional fuel points, for now at least.

BP has more than 3100 fill­ing sta­tions in the UK, but it de­clines to say when, or if, it will phase out petrol sales from its fore­courts.

Shan­non Wise­man, group press of­fi­cer for BP UK says: ‘ We do not have any specifics re­gard­ing our short-term plans, but we be­lieve that elec­tric ve­hi­cles will be a part of this tran­si­tion, to­gether with con­tin­u­ing im­prove­ments in the ef­fi­ciency of the in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine.

‘ We have stated that the num­ber of elec­tric cars will rise sig­nif­i­cantly, from 1.2 mil­lion in 2015 to around 100 mil­lion by 2035. That’s equal to 6% of the global fleet. Around a quar­ter of th­ese EVs are plug-in hy­brids and three quar­ters are pure bat­tery elec­tric ve­hi­cles.’

Shell has ac­tioned the im­me­di­ate in­stal­la­tion of plug-in sock­ets at a hand­ful of key sta­tions, with more to come in the fu­ture. It owns 550 sites and has hun­dreds more fran­chised fore­courts owned by third par­ties. Spokesper­son Natasha Obank says: ‘ We wel­come, and were not sur­prised by, the re­cent Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment. As the world’s largest fu­els re­tailer, we are al­ways re­view­ing how we can best meet our cus­tomer needs. ‘ We be­lieve that a mo­saic of fu­els will be re­quired to meet de­mand in the fu­ture. With than in mind we do not cur­rently have plans to re­duce the num­ber of our fore­courts.

‘ We are, how­ever, tri­alling some new ways of meeting cus­tomer needs. In the Nether­lands there is a pi­lot called Shell Tap Up where cus­tomers can tell us their lo­ca­tion and fuel needs and a small ve­hi­cle will de­liver the fuel to them. So, by 2040 there could be a range of so­lu­tions for cus­tomers to fill up, not just on the fore­court.’

JET has noted the re­duc­tion in fu­elling sta­tion num­bers across the na­tion, but in­sists that it is still look­ing to sup­ply petrol in the near fu­ture. Guy Pel­ham, re­tail busi­ness man­ager says: ‘Fol­low­ing a rapid de­cline in the num­ber of fill­ing sta­tions across the UK, the trend ap­pears to have slowed in the last cou­ple of years – but above all JET recog­nises that fuel qual­ity is para­mount. Our con­sumer re­search has shown that prod­uct qual­ity is one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors when choos­ing where to pur­chase fuel, and dis­cern­ing con­sumers are driv­ing up de­mand for qual­ity fuel.’

Ge­off Lan­caster, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the Fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish His­toric Ve­hi­cle Clubs, says the Gov­ern­ment’s plans are pro­gres­sive and be­lieves that the ini­tial concerns over fuel should be put to one side in favour of gain­ing ac­cess in cities for his­toric ve­hi­cles.

He says: ‘As the rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the UK of the his­toric ve­hi­cle move­ment we have been ac­tively en­gaged al­ready in this de­bate. In re­spect of the moves al­ready tak­ing place in some cities re­gard­ing Low Emis­sion zones – and in the case of Lon­don, Ul­tra Low Emis­sion Zones – we have es­tab­lished the prin­ci­ple that due to their very low im­pact on total emis­sions lev­els and bear­ing in mind their her­itage and cul­tural value, his­toric ve­hi­cles are to be ex­empt from th­ese mea­sures.’

JET’s 330 UK fill­ing sta­tions will be con­cen­trat­ing on pre­mium and lower mpg fu­els in the short term.

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