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Didi Chuxing, BP announce new venture to build EV charging network

By Zheng Xin and Ma Si | | Updated: 2019-08-01 16:11
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The logo for mobile taxi-hailing and car service app Didi Chuxing is seen in Hangzhou city, East China's Zhejiang province, Sept 4, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Didi Chuxing and the UK energy heavyweight BP announced on Thursday that they have agreed to form a new joint venture to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in China, the world's largest market for electric vehicles.

Under the agreement, the new partners plan to develop a network of EV charging hubs across China, as part of their broader efforts to better tap into the opportunities of electrification in the automobile sector.

As the world's multi-modal transportation platform, Didi offers users a full range of app-based options, including ride-hailing, automobile solutions sharing, and other services. Its platform already has approximately 550 million users and over 600,000 EVs are running on it in China.

BP has a global fuels retailing and convenience business operating in 16 countries, with over 18,700 retail sites, and with a significant and rapidly-growing presence in China.

The joint venture will develop standalone, reliable and high-quality charging hubs to provide EV charging services to Didi's drivers and the public. The partners also intend to expand the venture into loyalty and convenience offerings and other fleet services in the near future, the two companies said in a statement.

"As the world's largest EV market, China offers extraordinary opportunities to develop innovative new businesses at scale and we see this as the perfect partnership for such a fast-evolving environment. The lessons we learn here will help us further expand BP's advanced mobility business worldwide, helping drive the energy transition and develop solutions for a low carbon world," Tufan Erginbilgic, BP's Downstream chief executive, said.

"Combining BP's global retail capability, EV charging expertise and experience with Didi's unrivalled mobility service platform, our partnership will aggregate demand and provide high-quality, fast, reliable and safe charging for Didi drivers and the public in China. Didi plays a critical role in expanding the EV sector in China and with its very large user base we expect to drive high utilization of charging assets from Day One," Erginbilgic added.

"We look forward to combining our strengths to create a robust EV charging network for China, promote the growth of the new energy automotive industry, and provide better experience for car owners across the country, " said Cheng Wei, chairman and CEO of DiDi.

BP and Didi have already opened a pilot site in Guangzhou, the capital of South China's Guangdong province, with 10 fast-charging units, ranging from 60-120kW. This site will migrate into the joint venture once live. The venture aims to expand rapidly, with an ambition to quickly become the leading EV charging provider in China.

China is the world's largest and fastest-developing EV market, with about 50 percent of the world's battery electric vehicles today. By 2030, about 80 percent of EV charging in China is expected to be done at destination, forecourt and fleet hub charge points.

Jia Xinguang, former chief analyst of China Automobile Industry Consulting, said Didi has been working hard to push forward the development of e-charging infrastructure in China, for the company believes electrification is an inevitable direction for the automobile sector.

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