Shell Acquires EV Charging Provider and Joins Car Consortium to Build an EV Station Network in Europe

November 27, 2017 – The electric vehicle (EV) age has taken one more step towards becoming a global reality within the next two decades. Royal Dutch Shell, the second largest fossil fuel energy company in the world, has joined BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen in a venture to build charging stations across 10 European countries.

When Shell acquired NewMotion, an EV charging provider, last month, it marked the beginning of a sea change for the company as it makes the long transition to a low carbon future. In its agreement with the European and American automobile companies, it will install 6 EV charging stations in each of its 80 largest highway fueling stations on primary transportation routes. The charging stations will feature high-speed recharge capability. The effort represents one part of a larger commitment to a pan-European network with between 1 and 3 million charging sites in place by 2030.

Shell has forecasted by 2025, that it will achieve 20% of its fueling station profits from non-fossil fuel vehicles. It also projects EV fleet growth from 1% today to 10% in 2025, and 25% by 2040. For Shell, the transition to EVs will mean the displacing of oil demand and the hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil daily that fuel its profits. So this is not a public relations move. The company is clearing altering its business model and profit centers.

But this won’t happen without the company achieving the following:

  • an infrastructure of EV charge stations as ubiquitous as today’s diesel and gasoline fueling network.
  • the ability to recharge vehicles in the same amount of time that it takes to refuel fossil fuel-burning vehicles today.

Shell’s commitment to EV charging requires it to make the necessary investment to increase the ower feeding its existing fueling station network, while at the same time, committing itself to fast recharge technology development and implementation. No EV owner, except early adopters, is prepared to sit for 30 minutes or more before getting on the road again. Fast charging capacity will come from IONITY, a Munich based company that is part of the venture with the automotive manufacturers. IONITY currently has recharge technology capable of taking a 350 Kilowatt battery pack to full charge in 5 to 8 minutes, and a 150 Kilowatt battery pack to 80% capacity in 15.

In addition, the investment in NewMotion gives Shell and its partners 50,000 existing public charging network sites already in place in Europe. That represents the largest recharge infrastructure on the continent. And NewMotion gives Shell access to two-thirds of all European EV drivers through the NewMotion charge card, app and help desk, the largest electric car community on the planet today.

Shell isn’t alone in moving to EV charging investment. BP, last August, revealed it too was in discussion with European automobile manufacturers to create a recharging network within its existing fueling station infrastructure. Total, the French energy company, is also investing in a charging network, as is Statoil, in Norway, which has been making similar investments.

Current economic models show that EVs will achieve cost-parity with internal combustion engine vehicles by 2025. By then demand for EVs will grow to 200 million on the road by 2030 and a billion by 2050. Shell and other European energy companies recognize the implications to their current business models.

The question for North American energy companies is this, do they not see the writing on the wall? If the fossil fuel giants of North America, companies like Chevron and Exxon, motivated by the current U.S. administration to stay the course, the build-up of a charging infrastructure on this side of the pond will be delayed, as will the positive economic and sustainable environmental benefits that will come from such investments.


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery.