Shell considering EV charging network in UK

Posted on 16 Sep 2016 by Michael Cruickshank

Petrochemicals company Shell is reportedly looking to build an electric vehicle (EV) charging network in the UK.

According to emails obtained by a blog called DeSmog through a Freedom of Information request, the company is looking into the regulatory requirements to provide EV charging services.

DeSmog had originally lodged the FoI request in order to detail lobbying attempts by Shell to stall EV development, however they also seemed to show that the company had not completely ruled EVs out of its business strategy.

Following up on these documents, The Guardian then questioned Shell on if it was pursuing an EV charging network.

“We are examining the potential to introduce electric vehicle charging points across some parts of our UK retail network from early 2017 onwards,” a Shell spokeswoman reportedly said.

Given this comment, it would appear that the company is planning this network to go hand-in-hand with its preexisting network of petrol stations.

Currently Shell operates over 1,000 such stations within the UK, however so far it is unclear how many of these would host EV chargers.

One other piece of information revealed in the FoI request was that Shell was not just interested in conventional charging of EVs but also wireless charging.

Such an interest would play into preexisting UK government tests of wireless charging lanes on highways in order to prove the viability of this technology.

With EV chargers being installed at petrol states, the next question to be answered is what business model Shell will use. Other competitors in the UK such as Chargemaster make use of a subscription-based service, while car companies like Tesla provide their own ‘Supercharger’ network free of charge.

The inclusion of EV chargers at petrol stations however precludes the possibility that they might be billed on a per-use basis.

No matter how the charger network looks when (and if) it is rolled out, it will nonetheless demonstrate the possibilities for oil companies like Shell to operate in a post-petrol world.

Should they rapidly move into EV charging and support infrastructure, they would be able to pivot their business models and continue to make substantial profits.