UK FILLING STATIONS BOOST SWITCH TO ELECTRIC POWER
BP and Shell lead the charge towards EV top-ups, but there’s no end in sight – yet – for fossil-fuel sales
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.