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Electric cars in China

Didi and BP join forces to build EV charging network in China

Oil and gas giant eyes access to 600,000 electric cars in ride-hailing fleet

BP and Didi in May launched a pilot site in Guangzhou and plan "rapid expansion" of the EV charging network in China. (Photo courtesy of BP)

NEW YORK -- Chinese ride-hailing powerhouse Didi Chuxing has struck up a joint venture with oil and gas giant BP to build an electric vehicle charging network in China, the two companies said Thursday.

The partnership brings the London-based company into Didi's electric vehicle charging service Xiaoju Chongdian, which is available to both Didi and other drivers and accessible through a mobile app.

The venture aims to unite BP's expertise in fuel retailing and Didi's access to 600,000 electric cars in its fleet. As these vehicles are used for ride-hailing, they require more frequent recharging than those for individual use. Didi serves over 500 million riders in China.

BP operates around 740 gas stations in China -- a fraction of its global network of 18,700 -- as the country's traditional energy sector is dominated by state-owned enterprises.

The New York-listed British multinational in May launched a pilot site with Didi in Guangzhou and plans "rapid expansion of the network across China" through the venture.

"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," Tufan Erginbilgic, CEO of BP Downstream, said in a statement Thursday.

"Didi is already converting to electric vehicles and has a very large user base, so we expect to drive high utilization of charging assets from day one," Erginbilgic said.

The Chinese government set a goal of reaching 4.8 million electric vehicle charging points nationwide by next year, but only 770,000 have been built so far.

The ride-hailer's past partners in its electric vehicle charging effort include Tgood, Star Charge and Wanma Cable, which all dropped out of the network in April and will be Didi's competitors.

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