Full battery for BMW as it takes a chunk of Chargemaster

The car giant has taken a stake in the electric car charger company days before its planned flotation on AIM.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 21 Aug 2015
Chargemaster, the Luton-based company leading the pack in Britain’s electric car ‘revolution’, has sold a stake to BMW, days before it seeks to raise £6m by listing on AIM.
 
The firm designs, manufactures and markets charging points for domestic, commercial and public use. It is expected to start trading on London’s small companies stock exchange on 9 August, valued at £32m.
 
BMW is expected to launch its first battery-powered car, the i3, on Monday, making the partnership with Chargemaster a fitting one. Chargemaster already works with electric car pioneers Nissan and Renault and will now work with BMW to offer charging points at i3 buyers’ homes and BMW dealerships.
 
The electric trend has been something of a damp squib over the past few years. Remember Boris Johnson’s promise to make London the ‘electric car capital of Europe,’ aiming to get 100,000 electric cars and 25,000 charge points in the capital by 2015? To date, only around 850 people have signed up to his scheme and there are only 1,300 charge points.
 
But the move from BMW certainly signals a change might be on the way – and it could be down to a regulation from the EU. In January the European Commission said it was targeting 795,000 charging points across the EU by 2020. It also requires manufacturers to bring down the average carbon emission of their fleets by 2020.
 
When he announced the IPO at the start of the month, chief executive of Chargemaster, David Martell, spoke of an increased demand for electric car charging infrastructure.
 
‘This demand is being driven by automotive manufacturers producing a growing range of new plug-in cars required to meet regulatory emission targets, the UK's government's recent commitment to provide £37m of funding for charging infrastructure, as well as other governments' commitment to encouraging the uptake of environmentally cleaner vehicles,’ he said.
 
Good news for BMW, then. What isn’t good news, though, are strikes it faces thanks to plans to end its final-salary pension scheme in the UK for new starts.
 
Unite, the union looking after BMW’s employees, has reacted to the news with characteristic venom, saying it won’t rule out balloting for industrial action. The union believes BMW’s plans to end the scheme for new employees will progress into their scrapping the scheme for existing members.
 
The scheme has some 75,000 members but with only 5,000 actively paying into the pot, it’s struggling. BMW has already tried and failed to close the scheme to new starts in the past two years. Strikes, if they do take place, could affect production at manufacturing sites in Swindon, Oxford and Birmingham. So the age of the electric car is not getting off to the most auspicious start...

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