EV charging technology is developing rapidly helped by the oil majors, while Toyota is boosting hybrid battery production in China.
The challenge of increasing on-street charging infrastructure while also increasing the amount of permanent street 'furniture' may have been solved. UK-based start-up Urban Electric has developed 7kW 'pop-up' charging units which are hidden underground until activated by a mobile phone app.
The system taps into the low-voltage energy grid and includes smart technology that will ultimately ensure optimum charging times to minimise cost and demand on the grid.
Meanwhile, oil major turned energy provider, BP, is using its fuel retail sites to boost the EV charging infrastructure. Having purchased Chargemaster, the UK's leading EV charging provider, in 2018, BP is now implementing plans to roll-out 400 ultra-fast 150kW charging points across the UK by the end of 2021.
The first two units have been sited on the forecourt of a BP service station near Heathrow Airport, with the remainder being located in larger BP service areas where shopping and food outlets are also available. The rapid chargers are designed particularly for the next generation of EVs already starting to enter the market with fast charging capabilities.
The company has also started to roll-out an EV charging network across China, combining its service stations with car-sharing platform, DiDi, with the aim of becoming "China's leading EV chargin provider". The partnership combines hardware, software and infrastructure, with the first pilot site being opened in Guangzhou Province in South China.
Also in China, Toyota subsidiary Primearth EV Energy Co has announced it will build its fourth hybrid vehicle battery plant. The site, which is set for completion in 2021, will boost the company's total Chinese capacity by 100,000 a year, to 400,000 nickel-metal hydride batteries.
Elsewhere, BP rival, Shell, has announced the first of 10 fast EV charging points in its Singapore service stations, through its subsidiary Greenlots. Originally founded in Singapore, Greenlots is now based in Los Angeles, but has continued to expand its presence over the Asian region. The announcement comes as Singapore's EV market grows, not only for individual drivers, but ride-sharing and commercial fleets.
In India the EV fast-charging network is being championed by Tata, with their Power and Motors divisions joining forces to install 300 fast charging stations in five key cities by early 2021. Seven stations have already been installed in Pune, with Mubai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad to follow. The first 50 chargers will be 15kW Baharat Standard compliant, with later units meeting 30-50kW DC CCS2 standards. Although some of the charging points will be sited in Tata showroom forecourts, all units will be available to drivers of any type of EV.