BP is turning to a tech startup, making an investment in the maker of mobile charging points for electric cars.
The oil major is putting $5m (£3.5m) into FreeWire, a three-year-old San-Francicsco tech company, as part of a series A funding round with other investors via its corporate venture arm.
The startup makes Mobi Charger units which can easily be placed in different locations to meet demand, offering electric vehicles the ability to get charged quickly on the go.
BP will trial the technology across the UK and Europe this year.
“Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. Electric vehicle charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving," said BP downstream chief executive Tufan Erginbilgic.
“Using FreeWire’s mobile system we can respond very quickly and provide charging facilities at forecourts where we see the greatest demand without needing to make significant investments in today’s fixed technologies and infrastructure. The opportunity also to explore options for providing charging services away from our existing retail sites makes FreeWire an ideal partner for BP.”
The lack of charging points has often been blamed for the lack of take up of electric cars. In October, Shell agreed to buy the biggest electric vehicle charging provider in Europe.
BP and FreeWire were introduced at one of RocketSpace's accelerators, a hot house for corporates and startups, focused on the burgeoning area of mobility.
BP Ventures has invested $400m in 42 startups since 2006. That includes London insurance startup Drover and autonomous tech company Peloton.