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UK’s largest independent fuel station operator invests £400 million into EV charger roll-out

Jordan O'Brien

Jordan O'Brien

Contributing Editor
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Businesses such as petrol stations should adapt or die

The largest independent operator of fuel stations in the UK, the Motor Fuel Group, has committed £400 million towards the installation of thousands of new electric vehicle chargers. 

Operating forecourts for a variety of brands, including Esso, BP, Shell, Murco, Texaco and Jet, the Motor Fuel Group understands the need to transform its business model. With the UK aiming to achieve net zero by 2050, the Motor Fuel Group recognises the need to install EV chargers at its forecourts, especially given new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from sale in the UK in 2030. 

The Motor Fuel Group operates 918 fuel stations in the UK, with 108 of these sites already hosting EV charging infrastructure that was installed by third-parties. The company notes that this is the highest roll-out for any independent forecourt operator in the UK. 

Going forward, the Motor Fuel Group wants to take a leading role in the roll-out of EV chargers at its forecourts. It plans to self-fund, build and operate its own EV charging network, competing with other network operators on a national level. 

What electric vehicle charging options will be available at Motor Fuel Group forecourts?

As part of its plan to become a nationwide operator of EV charging stations, the Motor Fuel Group has committed £400 million towards the installation of around 3,000 EV chargers that are capable of charging speeds of 150kW and 350kW. It estimates that roughly 500 sites will see these chargers installed by the end of 2030. 

To reach this goal, the Motor Fuel Group has several targets:

In 2021, the Motor Fuel Group will build EV charging hubs at an additional 40 sites, offering over 200 Ultra-Rapid 150kW EV Chargers. The initial focus will be on major trunk roads and urban areas. In London alone, the company’s planned roll-out will treble the current number of open network Ultra-Rapid 150kW EV Chargers.

From 2022 onwards, the forecourt operator plans to build at least 50 additional EV charging hubs per year.  A significant number of these will be on the strategic road network, thereby materially helping the Government to hit the targets it has laid out.

The Motor Fuel Group expects to have rolled out electric vehicle chargers at all of its suitable sites by the end of 2035, with existing sites also having their chargers upgraded as and when car battery technology improves to allow even faster charging. 

How is the Motor Fuel Group getting ready for the EV onslaught?

As the UK transitions to net zero by 2050, the Motor Fuel Group recognises that its business will change considerably. While it has no plans to ditch petrol or diesel anytime soon, opting to go for a multi-fuel mix that also includes electric vehicle charging, the company does recognise that the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels. 

The company notes that it expects fossil fuel vehicles to remain for a number of years after the ban on the sale of non-EVs in 2030. It noted that on average, cars are 14 years old at point of scrappage – meaning millions of motorists will continue to require fossil fuels. 

However, one major change the company will make that will benefit all motorists, both those driving fossil fuel vehicles and those driving EVs, will be the improvement in the company’s retail offering. 

The Motor Fuel Group is arguably the fifth largest retailer by number of stores in the UK, mostly in high density urban areas. These stores often act as the local convenience store and are vital to communities.

Building on this footprint, and alongside its ambitious EV roll out, the company plans to invest over £50m in 2021 to improve its retail, food to go, and valeting offer to the consumer. This investment will continue in the years ahead across its UK wide network.

Furthering this improvement, the Motor Fuel Group will also consolidate its position as one of the largest drop box and home delivery locations for major logistics companies such as Amazon, InPost, and ByBox. 

William Bannister, CEO, the Motor Fuel Group, commented on the company’s transition, “Our planned £400 million investment in this vital infrastructure will help keep UK motorists on the move, and our essential retail will support local communities and the economy. I am looking forward to engaging with the Government to ensure this investment best meets the national EV infrastructure requirement to help us all make a contribution to ensuring Britain meets its net zero target by 2050.”

Read more about why fuel stations need to adapt or die in the upcoming transition to net zero.

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