Future Tesla-Powered BP Pulse Stations Popping Up, Possibly Near El Paso

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A recent sighting of a “coming soon” pin on PlugShare got me down a bit of a rabbit hole. But there’s an interesting story happening, and it might be starting near El Paso.

Part Of A Much Bigger EV Charging Story

There’s a truck stop that’s going to get a charging station. So what?

What caught my eye this time was that it’s a BP Pulse Station, and we only know about this because it was mentioned in a permit. If you’re from the company and reading this, I’m sorry “bp,” but I’m going caps on this because I think trendy lowercase company names are strange and confusing. Plus, there’s really no way to undo the fossil fuel damage done over past decades by making yourself look smaller (a common tactic for threatened animals in nature).

But, despite me being harsh about the lowercase thing, there is one thing that BP is doing that’s absolutely the right move: using rebranded Tesla charging hardware. As much as I think Elon’s losing his mind to the echo chamber he built, bought, and then beefed up on X/Twitter, there’s no disputing that Tesla makes good charging hardware and does a good job of keeping the network up and reliable. So, I can’t deny that this was a great fantastic move on BP’s part.

But, getting more good charging hardware into the region near El Paso is just the tip of the iceberg here.

The station is going to be installed at a Petro truck stop. What you might not know is that Petro is owned by TravelCenters of America, well-known for the TA branded truck stops. TA also owns TA Express and GOASIS stops. BP bought the whole kit and caboodle last year, so all of these truck stops (there are a ton of them altogether) are actually BP stations, and should all eventually get BP Pulse charging stations powered by Tesla’s reliable hardware.

“Strengthening the bp pulse network with Tesla’s industry-leading hardware is a major step forward in our ambitions for high speed, open access charging infrastructure in the US and advances our ambition to delivering an exceptional customer experience,” said Richard Bartlett, global CEO of BP Pulse at the time. “Combined with our vast network of convenience and mobility sites on and off the highway, this collaboration with Tesla will bring fast and reliable charging to EV drivers when and where they need it.”

But, as Billy Mays didn’t actually say, “But wait, there’s more!”

Only a couple of months before TA got bought by BP, the company had made a deal with Electrify Commercial, the arm of Electrify America that sells charging stations to businesses, governments, and utilities and then helps them run the stations. I don’t know whether that deal was affected by the buyout, and I’ll be asking both companies about that. But, whether or not the deal is still on, it’s only for 1,000 stalls at 200 TA locations, so there’s plenty of room for both EC and BP Pulse stations to be installed. Even $100,000,000 worth of charging hardware probably can’t cover all of TA’s charging needs in the coming years.

TA probably needs all the station hardware it can get, so this isn’t a bad thing. Older Electrify America hardware suppliers did everyone dirty with piss-poor hardware that didn’t hold up, but the latest stations are holding up a lot better. So, the more the merrier, right?

BP Pulse Is Actually Using All Sorts Of Charging Hardware

After doing a bunch of searching, I couldn’t find very many other BP Pulse stations with permits out like this one. There isn’t much of the network on PlugShare, which makes sense because the BP Pulse app points to stations that are on the EV Connect network. Searching for addresses on that app yielded photos from PlugShare like this one using FreeWire Technologies battery-powered hardware, along with several others in California, Oregon, and Washington. I found other stations using ABB hardware (no battery) in New York and New Jersey.

So, at this point, it may be premature to assume that the TA-Petro station in El Paso is going to get the Tesla charging hardware. But I’ll be sure to check it out and update readers. If it does turn out to be a new Tesla-powered station, I’ll be sure to get some photos!

Personally, I hope that the Tesla equipment ends up resulting in less of the junk that they’ve been buying from other suppliers. FreeWire stations are pretty solid, and are a great choice for quick installation at gas stations in many cases, especially in rural areas. For everything else that’s less of an ideal fit for battery-powered stations, I’m hoping we see the Tesla hardware make for a reliable network.

The Even Wider Story: Truck Stops Are Becoming Big EV Players Now

As was pointed out in another CleanTechnica article, the move to start adding more EV charging at truck stops is part of a much bigger effort that’s going to be great for road trips.

BP’s stations, which include not only TA, Petro, and other truck stops, but also gas station brands like Arco, are all going to get EV charging eventually. Other gas company operators like Shell are reportedly doing the same thing, with Shell even cutting some lower performance gas stations to free up funds to expand charging. It makes sense, even if some of these stations aren’t ideal for EV drivers given the lack of amenities.

On the other hand, truck stops are a much bigger deal because of the amenities. The old gas station model of doing business generally revolves around getting in, getting fuel, and maybe getting some drinks and snacks quickly. Then, people driving ICE vehicles expect to get back on the road fast. Does it work this way in real life? Well, not so much unless you’re a jilted NASA astronaut and you’re driving across the country wearing a diaper to get there faster and beat the crap out of a competing mate. Everyone else needs a few minutes to go pee and poo.

But EV charging generally means more loiter time while you’re charging, so you need to give people something better to do and offer better food if people are going to stick around and hopefully come back.

That’s why GM has partnered with EVgo and Pilot/Flying J to build a bunch of new Ultium-branded stations. Love’s is partnering with Electrify America. Road Ranger has been seen installing FreeWire charging stations. In other words, the deals are all being made or the companies (like BP) are doing it themselves.

The big question now is what the smaller independent truck stops are going to do to get charging.

Featured image by BP.

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