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Complete guide to the BP Pulse (formerly Polar Plus) charging network

This is how to charge your electric or plug-in hybrid car on the BP Pulse public charging network (formerly known as Polar Plus)

BP Pulse

Previously known as the Polar Plus network before a December 2020 rebrand, BP Pulse consists of more than 7,000 charging points across the UK, and includes everything from slow chargers to more than 400 rapid chargers nationwide.

In August 2020, the charging point provider announced a partnership with Marks & Spencer to “assess the use of electric-vehicle rapid charging at stores across the UK”. Its first site at Maidstone Eclipse Park features three 50kW rapid chargers, which operate using 100% renewable energy. Maidstone is the first of five M&S stores to benefit from BP Pulse investment.

Elsewhere, Pulse operates (as of November 2020) around 50 ultra-rapid 150kW charging stations. The first was revealed in June 2019, with installations rolling out at BP forecourts from August that year. In January 2020, it opened a rapid-charging hub on the M6 in Lancashire, at the Caton Road Park & Ride location near Junction 34, installing six 50kW units. It expects to have 400 of the 150kW units in place across the country by 2021.

A live map of the BP Pulse network showing the status of all its chargers can be viewed on the company’s website. There’s also a dedicated app for smartphone users.

BP Pulse membership

Membership of the BP Pulse (previously Polar Plus) network costs £7.85 per month. There's no fixed-term contract and you can cancel at any time. After you’ve signed up, you get a card or key fob in the post giving you access to the network. You simply drive up, plug in and tap the charger to top up your car. Access to the ChargeYourCar network is also included.

Some charging points do incur a fee, however, with prices starting from 12p per kWh at certain AC chargers. The network's 43kW AC and 50kW DC rapid chargers cost 15p per kWh to use, while as of December 2020, the 150kW DC ultra-rapid chargers cost 27p per kWh for BP Pulse members to use.

The company has said that all its new rapid and ultra-rapid chargers – in addition to its existing units – will be fitted with contactless payment technology. As of December 2020, paying with a debit or credit card costs 30p per kWh and 47p per kWh for rapid and ultra-rapid charging respectively.

The BP Pulse network also operates an ‘EV Experience Fleet’, featuring cars like the BMW i8 and Tesla Model S. With each charge, members accumulate points, which they can then use to bid on seven-day experiences in other electric vehicles. There are caveats, though: you can only earn points from an individual town or city once each month, and if successful you must collect and return the vehicle yourself. The EV Experience Centre is based in Milton Keynes.

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