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BP to invest £50m in UK battery technology

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Global energy giant BP Plc has announced plans to invest £50 million (c. $60 million) in a UK-based electric vehicle (EV) battery testing centre, building up its capacity in the EV market.

The company had previously announced its intention to invest up to £18 billion in the UK’s energy system by the end of 2030. The latest announcement is understood to be in addition to the previously announced investment plan and, as bp put it, show “a further example of BP’s (LSE: BP) commitment to the country.” In context, revenues from the overall integrated energy business in 2021 was $164 billion.

BP to build on expertise in battery charging and fluid technologies

bp pulse is BP’s EV charging business, which was created by the merger of the EV charging group bp Chargemaster and Polar, one of the UK’s largest public charging networks. In March 2022, BP announced plans to invest £1 billion into UK EV charging over the next ten years.

That investment will see bp pulse triple the size of its charging network and accelerate the roll out of state-of-the-art 300kW and 150kW ultra-fast charging points. Part of upgrading the charging infrastructure is to address range anxiety, enabling EV drivers up to 100 miles of range in around 10 minutes of charging, depending on the model of electric vehicle.

Richard Bartlett, senior vice president, bp pulse said: “At bp pulse we aim to provide the fastest and most reliable charging experience to our EV customers and continue to invest in our rapid and ultra-fast network globally for passenger cars and trucks. This investment will help us co-develop battery and charger technology and digital solutions with our OEM partners to help EVs go further, charge faster and last longer.”

The new facilities, which bp plans to open by the end of 2024, will be located at bp’s existing global headquarters for its Castrol business in Pangbourne, Berkshire, and will support the technology, engineering and science roles housed there today. The site already undertakes research and development of fuels, lubricants and EV fluids and the goal is for the centre to become a leading hub for fluid technologies and engineering in the UK.

Battery and fluid technologies to be developed

In bp’s terms that means focusing on fluid technologies and engineering for hybrid and fully battery electric vehicles, aiming to bring the industry closer to achieving the key tipping points for mainstream electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Castrol ON advanced e-fluids are already understood to be able to manage temperatures within the battery more effectively. This enables ultra-fast charging and improves efficiency, which help EVs to go further on a single charge and can extend the life of the drivetrain system.

Michelle Jou, CEO Castrol said: “We are committed to supporting the electrification of transport and the take-up of electric vehicles. The growth of EV fluids is a huge opportunity, and we aim to be the market leader in this sector. Two thirds of the world’s major car manufacturers use Castrol ON EV fluids as a part of their factory fill and we also supply Castrol ON EV fluids to the Jaguar TCS Racing Formula E team.  This significant new investment will now allow us to build additional strategic technologies and capabilities to further advance EV fluids for the future.”

bp continues to build on investments in EV market

Castrol intends to use the new facilities to continue to work with car manufacturers and suppliers to co-engineer future battery technology and associated thermal management fluids. It will also look to develop future technologies required to help to enable the ultra-fast charging which underpins bp pulse’s growth strategy.

The news continues bp’s commitment to the EV market, following recent news of its €1  billion investment into EV charging in Europe in partnership with Iberdrola.

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