The Switch is Coming

By: Tim Plouff

At the National Shell Convention in Los Angeles in April 2019, there was the usual assortment of high-performance vehicles long associated with the burning of gasoline strategically placed throughout the Staples Center. Ferrari race cars, which Shell sponsors in F1, Hennessey Motorsports 1,200-hp SUV’s, plus a variety of Dodge’s Hellcat-powered vehicles excited the assembled crowds.

Yet next to the booth with NASCAR racer Joey Logano, and his Shell-sponsored Ford Mustang, was a little noticed new fuel dispenser wearing the standard red-yellow-white livery of the trademark Pecten-brand. Two ‘nozzles’ hung off of the sides, like a conventional gas pump, yet these nozzles are really the heads of electronic charging connectors for electric cars. Shell’s Recharge electric vehicle “dispenser” was planting a seed for the future.

Shell US, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, recently announced its intention to install 500,000 ‘Charging Points’ around America by 2025. With the largest retail network among America’s gasoline brands, over 14,000 locations, Shell has the bandwidth to make an impact on the recognized shortage of EV charging stations as this market moves to increased EV usage.

Royal Dutch Shell has already acquired an EV charging company in Europe, plus the largest EV network in the UK, so the transition to a similar effort in America works in lockstep with the announced goal of the oil conglomerate to become net-zero by 2050. Quite a change for one of the world’s largest oil companies, as many oil companies seek to become total energy companies.

Here in the States, Shell is teaming with Greenlots to expand EV charging capabilities, with the goal of retaining conventional internal combustion-powered customers while combining EV customers into retail sites that are becoming greater destination locations for drivers. With  franchised Shell operators like Nouria Energy in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, as well as numerous branded-grocers that also sell Shell fuels, Shell is creating destination locations that meet driver’s needs for human and vehicle re-fueling demands.

In Maine, Shell is teaming up with Efficiency Maine, to provide funding support for erecting Shell EV dispensers at strategic locations. Other states will use the funds from the VW-diesel settlements for similar efforts.

Shell has already teamed with Ford and GM so that consumers can use payment apps to pay for their gasoline right from the dashboard of their vehicle. It stands to reason that EV charging at your local Shell station will employ similar technology as the switch to one alternative fueling option begins.

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