Didi Chuxing has joined forces with UK energy giant British Petroleum to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in China, months after a breakdown in cooperation with domestic players.

Why it matters: The partnership marks an acceleration in the Chinese ride-hailer’s efforts to develop services for EV drivers as sales continue to boom.

  • The collaboration is the latest in a series of moves by Didi to move aggressively into the market.
  • Last month, Didi formed an alliance with two state-owned firms to manage charging infrastructure in the southern island province of Hainan, where there are plans to increase charging piles six-fold to nearly 30,000 next year. 

Details: The two companies will set up a new joint venture in China to offer charging services not only to Didi drivers but to millions of general EV owners as well.

  • BP’s first Chinese charging station in Guangzhou has already been connected to Xiaoju Automobile Solutions, Didi’s mobile auto-related services platform for charging, leasing, maintenance, and repair.
  • The two parties expect to scale up the network after the JV is formed.

“We look forward to combining our strengths to create a robust EV charging network for China, promote the growth of the new energy automotive industry, and provide a better experience for car owners across the country.”

— Cheng Wei, Didi Chairman and CEO

Context: Didi made a solid entry into the EV charging business by forging alliances with Teld New Energy, Star Charge and iCharge as early as 2016. However, all three companies ended their cooperation in April and left its platform.

  • Didi CEO Cheng Wei first disclosed plans for a Didi charging network in late 2017 with the aim of providing support for over one million EVs on its platform by next year.
  • The charging service launched in early 2018 and is available in more than 20 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
  • Teld New Energy, Star Charge and iCharge operate more than 220,000 public charging piles in total as of May this year, more than half of the total supply nationwide, according to the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance.
  • Star Charge last month formed partnerships with major OEMs including Volkswagen, VW’s China partner JAC, and state-owned FAW to install fast-charging facilities at its 30,000 stations.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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