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BP moves into China's electric vehicle charging market

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BP is investing in PowerShare. Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

BP is investing in PowerShare, a 4-year-old Chinese startup providing a digital platform that "connects [electric vehicle] drivers, charge point operators and power suppliers," BP said today.

Why it matters: The funding amount in the Series A round was not disclosed, but it signals the interest in getting a stake in the world's largest market for EVs and its infrastructure.

  • Of note: It's the first direct investment in China by BP Ventures, the company's VC arm.

Details: BP's announcement says PowerShare's tech is a way to help manage the growing role of EV's in electricity infrastructure.

  • "PowerShare's cloud-based system also allows power suppliers to optimise their operations by continuously monitoring and balancing the power demand from vehicles with the supply capacity of the grid," it states.
  • Reuters reports, "With China targeting sales of more than 7 million EVs by 2025, the need to manage demand and distribution of power on the grid, particularly at times of peak demand, will be crucial."

The big picture: The investment is the latest sign of European-based multinational oil-and-gas giants getting increasingly involved in the EV charging space. Some other examples are...

  • BP's purchase last year of the U.K. charging network Chargemaster and investment in the fast-charging startup StoreDot.
  • Shell's 2017 purchase of the charging company NewMotion.
  • Total's 2018 acquisition of the charging firm G2mobility.

But, but, but: Investments in low-carbon and emerging energy tech and companies — including renewables and EV infrastructure — remains a very small part of oil majors' portfolios.