It’s a corporate acquisition that could be the sign of a coming tectonic shift from gas to electricity: the gas station company Royal Dutch Shell just bought NewMotion, one of Europe’s largest electric vehicle charging providers. NewMotion’s specialty is converting parking spots into EV charging stations, with more than 30,000 EV stations in Europe.
As CNN reports:
The acquisition, Shell’s first in this space, shows how Big Oil is being forced to confront the long-term threat posed by electric cars and efforts to phase out gasoline and diesel vehicles.
“This is a way of broadening our offer as we move through the energy transition,” Matthew Tipper, Shell’s vice president of new fuels, told CNNMoney in an interview. “It’s certainly a form of diversification.”
We’ve certainly seen oil companies try to diversify before. Chevron, for example, had a renewable fuels unit that it discontinued a few years ago, as oil prices and profits went up at the time. But this acquisition could be an indicator that these gas companies now see a growing market for EVs that will need to be met with more fueling infrastructure.
I’ve written before about our sore lack of charging stations in places like California. It would be a pretty elegant solution if more gas station companies like Shell started getting into the EV charging business. Station owners don’t make much on fuel sales anyway but on the retail sales in the on-site mini-marts. So attracting EV buyers to charge and buy at these gas stations could make economic sense. And with super-fast chargers on the way, EVs could be an economic lifeline for these gas stations with fueling as fast as gassing up is now.
The transition to low-carbon fuels will disrupt some existing companies but provide opportunities, too, particularly for incumbents like Shell that are willing to take a risk.