We somehow missed this one in October, but it’s an interesting and inspiring milestone that recently crossed our desk and seemed like it needed to be covered. Shell announced in October that it wouldn’t just be adding EV charging stations to more gas/petrol stations, but that it would actually be fully converting a gas/petrol station to an EV charging station.
This particular station is in Fulham, West London, UK. The goal was for the transformation to be completed by the middle of this year. We’ll have to have one of our British contributors check out the situation. It is supposed to have 10 charging stalls, each with 150 kW of max charging power.
The announcement didn’t come alone and certainly didn’t come out of the blue. The announcement was made around the same time that Shell installed its 50th EV charging station in the UK and its 1st high-power 150 kW charging stall.
Reporting on this at the time, Forecourt trader noted, “It also follows last week’s announcement about Shell’s ‘carbon neutral’ program, giving drivers the chance to offset their carbon dioxide emissions free of charge when they buy fuel at its UK service stations using the Go+ card, a scheme — which went live on October 17 — that will cost the oil major £10 million over the next 12 months.”
“This is about us thriving through the energy transition,” noted Bernie Williamson, Shell UK Retail’s general manager. “We’re looking at the next evolution and the needs of our customers in the broader sense. We’re doing nature-based solutions, giving motorists the opportunity to do something about their carbon footprint as we continue to invest and ramp up long-term solutions of electric vehicle charge posts for those people when they’re ready to move to EV transportation. We’re ideally placed for that — we have a fantastic network where over 75% of the population is within 15 minutes of a Shell service station.”
Before getting to other Shell EV topics, I want to take a moment to point out something that I think should be obvious but actually gets very little attention and I’m yet to see implemented well. First of all, it’s well known that gas stations make much more of their profits on what they sell inside the station, not the gas. It’s also well known that EV drivers have more time to spare while charging than gas car drivers have while they stand next to the pump and watch the cash money ticker rise rapidly. It’s also well known that humans like a nice, cozy place to sit down, drink a coffee, open a laptop, and relax. In my opinion, everyone in this industry should be working their butts off to create the nicest, coolest places to chill out (and spend some cash) while their cars charge. Don’t just location your charging stations next to nice places and popular shops — build the damn chains yourself and make them the hot new place to hang out! Make them so nice that people want to go there whether they have an EV or not — a competitor to Barnes & Noble, Starbucks, the mall, the park, Disney World, etc.
Shell has a unique opportunity to lead on this since it has an enormous country’s worth of cash. It also has a clear, well-known brand. If it started to roll out super cool EV charging station lounges/coffee shops/entertainment facilities, the world would take notice. And they could make a lot more money than they’ll ever make from charging cars or filling up gas tanks.
While I haven’t yet seen such leadership from Shell, it is at least gung ho about the EV transition (despite what that means to its core business). Back in October 2017, Shell bought NewMotion, one of the largest charging networks in Europe. That followed previous announcements and developments around EV charging, and since then Shell has bought another major charging network, this time in the US — Greenlots.
More recently, Shell launched a program letting gas/diesel drivers atone for their CO2 emissions, “giving drivers the chance to offset their carbon dioxide emissions free of charge when they buy fuel at its UK service stations using the Go+ card, a scheme — which went live on October 17 — that will cost the oil major £10 million over the next 12 months.” Of course, better is to just not buy gas/diesel, but Shell realizes that and seems to be adapting fairly well to a coming world dominated by electric vehicles. Again, my big suggestion is that Shell takes the opportunity to really transform itself and become a destination, not just a stopping ground. The opportunity is wide open.