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Published on February 3rd, 2019 | by Tina Casey


The Inside Scoop On Next-Wave EV Charging (#CleanTechnica Exclusive Interview)

February 3rd, 2019 by  

File this one under T for They who laugh last, laugh best. Not too long ago right-wing pundits and other naysayers excoriated electric vehicles as a big joke, with one of the biggest laugh lines being reserved for the lack of public EV charging stations. Now EVs are surging into the mainstream and major oil companies want a piece of the action.

One of those companies is Royal Dutch Shell, which just added the leading EV charging solutions company Greenlots to its list of subsidiaries. CleanTechnica caught up with Greenlots last week to get some more details about the deal, and they provided us with the following lowdown via email.

How Oil Giants Can Foster The EV Charging Revolution

CleanTechnica: How will being under the Shell umbrella help Greenlots to grow?

Greenlots: While we are still working out the details, this acquisition clearly presents opportunities for rapid and significant growth. While we will look to expand our offerings both here in North America and around the world, our first priority is to execute against our 2019 business plan.

CleanTechnica: Why was Greenlots interested in being acquired by Shell?

Greenlots: We’ve been saying for years that Greenlots sits at the nexus of energy and mobility. This deal speaks volumes to that message. The global energy industry is undergoing massive changes as new and emerging technologies disrupt traditional business models and transform the energy landscape.

This shift has led to increasing digitalization, whereby data is collected and used to engage consumers and instantly respond to changes in grid conditions. This increasingly digitalized and distributed power system requires a smart, flexible and responsive electrical grid.

All of this is happening while a new and potentially massive load is about to hit as we accelerate toward widespread electrification of transportation — not just passenger vehicles, but also heavy-duty trucks, buses, fleets, drones and even airplanes.

Energy and mobility are the twin pillars of these transformations, and both will require investment and innovative technologies to bridge to the future. Shell’s decades of experience in energy infrastructure provides an unparalleled platform for Greenlots to accelerate its mobility platform on a global scale.

In recent years, Shell New Energies has taken huge strides in its efforts to explore and support forward-thinking power and fuel solutions, and we’re excited to help further that mission.

Together, we will continue to innovate and expand upon the technologies and services we offer to stakeholders across the EV ecosystem, including drivers, utilities, cities, businesses and automakers.

An EV Charging Station In Every Pot, Er, Gas Station

Got all that? Greenlots wasn’t too specific in answering the first question, but Shell’s other activities could provide some hints.

Back in 2017, Shell purchased the leading EU company NewMotion with the aim of planting EV charging stations in existing Shell gas stations. I know, right?

Aside from any new revenue stream for Shell, the effect will be to cultivate gasmobile owners into the Shell-branded fold when they go out looking for their next car, which is increasingly likely to be an EV.

Last October, Shell launched a “rolling gas station” platform in the EU that could also provide a way for gasmobile drivers to ease into the app-based world of EV charging. For that matter, Shell already offers an app for gasmobile fueling, which it just updated last October.

Here in the US, Shell invested in the app-based “stealth” EV charging startup Ample last summer and it launched a new EV charging service in California, so there’s that.

What Happened to All The Gas Stations?

Speaking of gas stations, back in the olden days EV critics cited the lack of charging stations as proof that zero emission mobility was a chimera.

The irony is that the number of EV charging stations has been exploding in the US, even while the number of gas stations has been shrinking dramatically.

The problem (well, it’s a problem for gasmobile drivers anyways) is especially acute in urban areas where real estate costs are high, leading to the creation of “gas deserts.”

Coincidentally, those same areas are ripe for EV adoption due to their shorter commutes and rising demand for non-polluting mobility.

Meanwhile, Shell still has thousands of gas stations under its brand in the US, so keep an eye open. You may just spot an EV charging station or two the next time you visit.

Shell isn’t the only one. Other oil and gas giants are dipping a toe in the EV charging waters, and pretty soon they’ll be up to their necks.

Hold the applause, though. Like other oil and gas giants, Shell is hedging against a combustion-free future by investing in new petrochemical plants, including some big ventures on the US Gulf Coast and in Pennsylvania.

Mole, meet mallet.

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Photo (cropped): via Greenlots. 

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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