Shell to acquire UK’s largest electric vehicle charging network

Royal Dutch Shell

Royal Dutch Shell has today agreed to acquire ubitricity, a European provider of on-street charging for electric vehicles (EVs).

The move represents a further step in Shell’s efforts to support drivers as they switch to lower-carbon transport – with goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Subject to regulatory clearance, the deal is expected to be completed later this year.

Founded in Berlin, Germany, ubitricity operates in a number of European countries, and is the largest public EV charging network in the UK with over 2,700 charge points (currently over 13% market share).

The company has also established emerging public charging positions in Germany and France and has installed over 1,500 private charge points for fleet customers within Europe.

István Kapitány, Executive Vice President of Shell Global Mobility, said, “Working with local authorities, we want to support the growing number of Shell customers who want to switch to an EV by making it as convenient as possible for them. 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. Whether at home, at work or on-the-go, we want to provide our customers with accessible and affordable EV charging options so they can charge up no matter where they are.”

Industry reaction

Oliver Shaw, CEO at Kalibrate

Shell’s investment in Ubitricity, the UK’s biggest EV charging network, is a significant step for the market. However, the challenge remains making charging points universally accessible. Building an EV charging network doesn’t happen overnight; it will require a significant investment to make it possible and, more importantly, a deep understanding of where these charging points need to be placed to make EV ownership more appealing to all of society.

Once an optimised and operational EV network is in place, forecourts will need to introduce supplementary services, like somewhere where consumers can check emails or social media, or have a quick meal or coffee. There is no denying that EVs need to make up a significant part of our roads in the future, but only by filling the time spent waiting for a EV car to recharge will we see long-term success; the UK’s first electric forecourt goes some way to plugging this issue, as it provides drivers with somewhere to charge their car and access quality services and food.

Fuel retailers, petrol forecourts and global oil giants are now consolidating their services. Asda and the Issa brothers have bet their whole business model on fuel and convenience in one place, while in the US 7-Eleven’s purchase of Speedway is yet another indication of the future where services are consolidated under one roof. Developments like this show us that the future of automotive and EVs is bright, but we have a long way to go yet before they are a viable option for all.