BP pulse has announced plans to establish a gigahub network, a series of large, EV fast charging hubs to serve ride hail and taxi fleets near US airports and other high demand locations nationwide.

The first is planned for a site near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in collaboration with Hertz and will be partially funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

The CEC is providing a US$2m grant award to support the LAX project with BP Pulse providing installation and management of charging infrastructure, including the use of its proprietary ‘Omega’ charge management software which optimises the cost of charging. The site is also near a Hertz LAX location.

The rental car operator itself has been spending large on EVs, announcing last April it would acquire 65,000 Polestar models. A year ago, it had said it would acquire the largest EV rental fleet in North America “as consumer interest in electric vehicles (EV) skyrockets” by placing an initial order for 100,000 Teslas by the end of 2022 and establishing new EV charging infrastructure across its global operations. Also in 2021, Hertz announced a deal with General Motors which would see it order up to 175,000 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac and BrightDrop EVs over the next five years.

Last September, Hertz and BP announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the development of a national network of EV charging stations powered by BP Pulse.

“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. Our gigahub network will provide a charging experience that is convenient and cost optimised to drivers at airports across the country,” said Vic Shao, president of BP Pulse’s fleet division, in a statement.

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Jeff Nieman, Hertz operations SVP, added: “Our aim is to provide customers with access to a national network of chargers that makes the experience of renting an electric vehicle convenient and seamless. Rideshare drivers are essential to the mobility landscape and 25,000 Uber drivers have rented EVs through [us] to date.

“We are thrilled… to offer this charging hub to those drivers at one of [our] great sites near LAX. And it’s just the beginning.”

Gigahub network development is part of BP Pulse’s commitment to making the adoption of electric transportation simple, reliable, and cost effective. Globally, the company has a goal of expanding its charger infrastructure to 100,000 by 2030.

The CEC grant for the new LAX site is part of the California Clean Transportation Program’s ‘Charging Access for Reliable On-Demand Transportation Services’ initiative which aims to mitigate the environmental impact of significant ride-hail penetration in the Los Angeles.

Patty Monahan, lead California energy commissioner for transportation, said: “Vehicles employed by California’s ride hailing fleets make up 2.5% of the vehicle population but consume 30% of all public fast charging.”

Uber head of vehicles and electrification, Ashwin Dias, said: “We know from drivers charging availability is a key concern. The leadership from BP Pulse, Hertz and the California Energy Commission to build charging [infrastructure] near locations like LAX, where high mileage drivers need them most, is crucial to addressing that barrier and achieving the maximum emissions benefits.”