Oil major Royal Dutch Shell in October purchased the Dutch firm NewMotion, which runs one of the largest electric vehicle (EV) charging networks in Western Europe. NewMotion currently provides 30,000 home charging points and 50,000 public charging locations.

The deal marks Shell’s first foray into electric mobility, which threatens to disrupt the market for gasoline at retail stations. Last year, Total purchased PitPoint, another Dutch company that had emerged as a leading provider of natural gas vehicle fuel and electric vehicle charging, as well as biogas and hydrogen.

Global estimates of how quickly EV adoption will occur vary wildly, but Shell anticipates about 25 per cent of cars on the road by 2040 will be electric. BP and Exxon each increased their 2040 EV forecasts by about 40 per cent over the past year, while the International Energy Agency more than doubled its 2030 forecast to 58 million vehicles.

Shell has begun installing fast EV charging infrastructure at its gas stations in the U.K., the Netherlands, the Philippines and Norway, but does not have plans to use NewMotion products at these locations. The company described the two initiatives as complementary, with NewMotion instead continuing to focus on charging locations in residences and workplaces.

A partnership has also been formed between Shell and IONITY – a joint venture that includes car companies BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford – to install 80 rapid charging stations alongside highways in 2019.

Bowing to investor pressure and global commitments made through the Paris Agreement, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden announced plans in November to reduce the net carbon footprint of its products by 50 per cent by 2050.

In comments to investors, Beurden also pledged to spend between $1 billion and $2 billion (U.S.) for the next several years on renewables and EV infrastructure, although critics were quick to point out that this only accounts for a fraction of Shell’s overall annual investments.

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