(Pocket-lint) - BP has announced it will be trialing electric vehicle charging points in select petrol stations in the UK and Europe.

The oil company has invested $5 million (£3.5 million) in US firm Freewire that specialises in mobile rapid charging units for vehicles. And, from February, will roll out the Freewire Mobi Chargers around its forecourts for customers to top up their electric cars.

BP is following Shell in supplying EV charging, with the rival already providing facilities in some locations.

The Freewire units make it easy to install in its stations, claims BP, thanks to their small form factor and mobility: "Using FreeWire’s mobile system we can respond very quickly and provide charging facilities at forecourts where we see the greatest demand without needing to make significant investments in today’s fixed technologies and infrastructure," said Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive of BP Downstream.

It is also a significant sign that oil companies are keen to adapt to the times and seek other revenue streams as electric cars and other vehicles become more mass market.

The initial wave of charging units will be used to test consumer demand, but all being well, BP's investment in Freewire should lead to more Mobi Chargers being sited.

Writing by Rik Henderson.