Royal Dutch Shell is installing rapid electric vehicle plug-ins at 10 of its 1,000 petrol stations in the United Kingdom, enabling customers to recharge their batteries to 80% in just half an hour.
The first charging points, branded Shell Recharge, will be in place this week at locations in London, Surrey, and Derby.
“The move marks the Shell’s first step into the UK electric car sector and comes days after the Anglo-Dutch oil company bought NewMotion, a Dutch firm with 30,000 private charging points at homes and offices in Europe,” The Guardian reports. “Shell said the forays into charging were spurred by the swift growth in battery-powered cars, which now number more than 115,000 in the UK, up from almost zero a decade ago.”
“We want to make sure we are positioning ourselves for the future,” said the company’s UK future fuels manager, Jane Lindsay-Green. “There’s no doubt the electric vehicle market is developing fast, and we want to offer customers choice. It doesn’t really matter what kind of vehicle they’re driving. We want them to drive into a Shell station, refuel in whatever capacity the fuel is.”
Lindsay-Green acknowledged the installations are a baby step into EV charging. “The market is very young,” she said. “We are learning here. We’ve started very small. It’s 10 sites, it’s certainly not a mass market yet for us.”
But Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Colin McKerracher said it’s still significant that Shell is buying NewMotion and rolling out an initial charging network.
“I wouldn’t say it spells the end of the pump as we know it,” he told The Guardian, “but we are on the way to a world with a broader mix of vehicles on the road, and Shell are making a play to keep their stations relevant.”
Shell Vice President for New Fuels Matthew Tipper said the company is running the charger installations and the NewMotion acquisition as separate ventures. “They’re complementary offers,” he told media. “One is fast charging on the go, and the other is a slightly slower rate of charge at the workplace or at home. At this stage, there are no plans to integrate the two.”
The coverage on CleanTechnica focuses on Shell’s acquisition of NewMotion, a deal it compares to tobacco companies diversifying when they began to see tough economic times ahead.
“The corporate marriage is a strange one, given that NewMotion’s founding principle is creating ‘a cleaner world by eradicating fossil fuels,’” writes reporter Steve Hanley. “Its CEO, Sytse Zuidema, says the deal will speed up the growth of the company by letting it plug in (you should pardon the expression) to Shell’s vast business network.”
Zuidema stressed that “we are here not to fuel cars with petrol, but with electricity.”
Hanley notes that both countries are headquartered in The Netherlands, where “awareness of global warming is a staple of the local culture.” In an interview with CNN Money, Tipper acknowledged that “this is a way of broadening our offer as we move through the energy transition. It’s certainly a form of diversification.”