Energy conglomerate BP has been pulling fossil fuel out of the ground since around the turn of the 20th century — leaving a considerable carbon footprint in its wake. But lately, the company has been navigating a different course to become more sustainable. It’s promoting low-carbon hydrogen as the fuel of the future, taking a 40.5% equity stake in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, and even dipping its toes into the electric vehicle (EV) charging market.
In October, BP announced plans to build a series of fast-charging “gigahubs” near U.S. airports and other high-demand locations. The first planned location will be built near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with Hertz and is partially funded by a $2 grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).
BP Pulse, the parent company’s EV charging unit, will lead the installation and management of the infrastructure, including its proprietary Omega charge management software. The LAX gigahub will be located at one of Hertz’s sites.
The network is part of a broader initiative by BP to help make the adoption of electric transportation simpler, more reliable, and more cost-effective.
Globally, the company’s goal is to expand its network of chargers to 100,000 by 2030. As part of that effort, BP and Hertz will build out infrastructure at Hertz locations across North America.
One goal is to provide more and better charging options for ride-hail services, ranging from Uber and Lyft to traditional taxis.
“More and more ride-hail and taxi fleets are making bold commitments to electrify. To do so successfully, they will need access to reliable EV charging,” said Vic Shao, president of BP Pulse’s fleet division. “Our Gigahub network will provide a charging experience that is convenient and cost-optimized to drivers at airports across the country.”
The CEC grant was provided as part of a California initiative to mitigate the environmental impact of rapidly increasing ride-hail use in Los Angeles.
“Vehicles employed by California’s ride-hailing fleets make up 2.5 % of the vehicle population, but consume 30% of all public fast charging,” according to Patty Monahan, lead California energy commissioner for transportation.
“The California Energy Commission is proud to support projects like the Gigahub network by BP Pulse … and Hertz, two transportation powerhouses who are working together to help electrify ride-hailing and rental fleets and cut pollution in communities,” said Monahan.
BP said it will install 48 ports in its initial hub, with an estimated 6,400 ride-hailing fleet EVs expected to use the site daily by 2027. More than 25,000 Uber drivers have rented vehicles from Hertz, according to Jeff Nieman, the company’s senior vice president of operations initiatives. That number is expected to rise sharply in the years to come.
In 2021, California approved a mandate for Uber and Lyft to transition a much bigger percentage of their fleets to fully electric by 2030. The problem is most infrastructure programs have overlooked urban ride-hailing drivers in favor of charging stations geared for longer road trips.
The BP gigahub network will help address that problem.
“We know from drivers that charging availability is a key concern when making the switch [to electric vehicles,” said Ashwin Dias, Uber’s head of vehicles and electrification. “The leadership from BP Pulse, Hertz, and the California Energy Commission to build charging solutions near locations like LAX, where high mileage drivers need them most, is crucial to addressing that barrier and achieving the maximum emissions benefits.”