Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and BP Plc plan to offer electric vehicle (EV) charging points at their energy stations across India, a senior RIL official said, as the two companies seek to benefit from the government push to increase sales of eco-friendly vehicles.

RIL, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is expected to tap the expertise of BP, its British partner in the field of charging EVs, said the official, on condition of anonymity.

“RIL has always looked at offering CNG (compressed natural gas), LNG (liquefied natural gas) and EV charging options at its outlets as most of them are located on highways, a convenient location to have," the RIL official said.

Last June, BP acquired Chargemaster, the UK’s largest EV charging company, and renamed it BP Chargemaster. The company operates Polar, the largest EV charging network in the UK, with more than 7,000 public charging points, providing a comprehensive public charging solution.

RIL and BP had on 6 August announced their fuel retailing partnership for India. The joint venture, which is owned 51% by RIL and 49% by BP, plans to set up 5,500 fuel retail outlets across India.

The energy stations would not only have EV charging facilities but also retail petrol, diesel, CNG, and LNG, the RIL official said.

RIL’s plans to establish EV charging infrastructure comes as the Union government accelerates efforts to significantly boost the sales as well as related infrastructure for EVs in the country to trim costly crude oil imports and curb rampant pollution.

“The joint venture will explore options for other mobility services, CNG, LNG, and electric charging at our retail network," an RIL spokesperson said in an emailed reply to queries from Mint sent on 13 August.

“Our analysis provides a view that EVs would grow rapidly, but oil will continue to have a major share in transportation till 2040," the spokesperson said.

Mint had on July 2017 reported that RIL plans to foray into retailing CNG and LNG and set up charging points for EVs. This would be RIL’s second innings in the domestic fuel retail market. The firm, which had a 12% market share in fuel retailing in 2005, saw this fall to less than 0.5% in 2014, by when it had shut most of its fuel retail outlets because of spiralling crude prices.

State-run Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd, and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd, managed to sell fuel below production cost because of government subsidies that were not available to private sector fuel retailers at the time.

However, after the government deregulated petrol and diesel prices in June 2010 and October 2014, respectively, RIL began reopening its retail outlets in phases, gradually taking its market share to around 5%. The company and its private sector rivals, Essar Oil and Shell India, together control less than 10% of the fuel retail market, which is dominated by the state-run firms.

RIL had spent 5,000 crore to set up 1,470 outlets between 2004 and 2006, of which 1,378 are operational. Of these, the company owns 516 outlets, while the rest are dealer-owned. It holds licences to set up 5,000 fuel retail outlets. BP holds licences to set up 3,500 outlets.

India is one of the few major global markets where fuel demand is growing and has the attracted attention of foreign fuel retailers.

India’s share of gas in the energy basket may move from the present 6% to 15% by 2030 for which the country is developing infrastructure by setting up a National Gas Grid and promoting City Gas Distribution to make natural gas available to 70% of the population in cities, including Tier II and III cities.

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