Posted on EVANNEX on September 12, 2021 by Charles Morris
It sounds like the perfect plot for a conspiracy thriller: the giant oil companies are buying up electric vehicle charging companies as fast as they can. Do they mean to shut ‘em all down, or just to make sure that the price of charging is high enough that driving an EV won’t deliver any savings over driving a fossil-fueled vehicle? (Shell is one of the world’s largest providers of hydrogen, made from natural gas.)
Or, could there be a surprise ending? Perhaps the oil execs have the good of mankind at heart—they realize that the Oil Age is ending, and want to be in position to profit from the next energy era.
We’ll have to wait for the next episode to find out about that—what we do know is that three Europe-based oil multinationals (Shell, Total and bp) started getting into the charging game back in 2017, and now own companies at every stage of the charging value chain.
Shell is rapidly becoming a major player in the UK charging market—the company now offers charging at numerous petrol stations (aka forecourts), and will soon be rolling out charging at some 100 supermarkets.
The latest news is that Shell aims to install 50,000 on-street public charging points in the UK over the next four years (as reported by The Guardian). Earlier this year, the oil giant acquired ubitricity, which specializes in integrating charging into existing street infrastructure such as lamp posts and bollards, a solution that could make EV ownership more attractive to city dwellers who don’t have private driveways or assigned parking spaces.
This is a big deal—according to the UK’s National Audit Office, over 60% of urban households in England do not have off-street parking, meaning that there’s no practical way for them to install a home charger. A similar situation prevails in many regions, including China and parts of the US.