Shell has agreed to buy one of Europe’s largest on-street electric car-charging companies to accelerate its move into low-carbon transport.
The oil company, which faces growing pressure to cut its carbon emissions, expects the deal to buy the German car-charger ubitricity to be finalised by the end of the year.
The car-charging network includes more than 2,700 charge points across the UK, or 13% of the existing market share, and more than 1,500 charge points across Germany and France.
István Kapitány, the head of Shell’s global mobility business, said ubitricity’s work with local authorities to fit car chargers to existing street infrastructure such as lamp-posts and bollards would help make owning an electric vehicle more convenient.
“On-street options such as the lamp-post charging offered by ubitricity will be key for those who live and work in cities or have limited access to off-street parking,” he said.
“Whether at home, at work or on the go, we want to provide our customers with accessible and affordable EV [electric vehicle] charging options so they can charge up no matter where they are.”
The deal is set to accelerate the race to corner the market in electric vehicle charging, which is gaining pace among energy companies because of the UK’s plan to ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2030.
Shell was one of the first energy companies to set out plans for “green” forecourts in the UK, which offer electric charging, hydrogen cell refuelling and biofuels rather than petrol and diesel. It also installed the UK’s first 150kW electric vehicle charger, in the summer of 2019, which can charge a car in half an hour.
However, on-street charging is considered crucial to the success of electric vehicles because the option is likely to be more convenient for drivers, particularly in cities.
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Late last year BP consolidated its car-charge network acquisitions – including a £130m deal to buy Chargemaster – to create what it claims to be the UK’s largest public car-charging network, made up of 7,000 charge points.
Lex Hartman, ubitricity’s chief executive, said his charging network stands out because the charge points are integrated into existing on-street infrastructure.
“Particularly in larger cities where there is limited access to off-street parking, this is the solution many people have been waiting for to allow them to transition to EV ownership. Combining this piece of the puzzle with Shell’s existing range of EV charging solutions gives EV drivers access to a full range of charging options, making Shell and ubitricity a perfect match,” Hartman added.