Shell snaps up Greenlots to accelerate electric vehicle charging networks across the U.S.
The burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) industry may still be in its infancy, but the oil and gas sector has seen the trajectory — and it knows the future is very much about “clean energy.”
With that in mind, oil and gas giant Shell has revealed plans to buy Greenlots, a Los Angeles-based company that produces EV charging stations and software for facilities across North America and elsewhere. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
As a result of the acquisition, Greenlots will become a subsidiary of “Shell New Energies,” a sub-division set up in 2016 by Shell which focuses on alternative “new fuels” for transport.
Founded in 2008, Greenlots doesn’t sells charging stations to cities, automakers, workplaces, and other property owners. It also offers the software to manage and monitor this infrastructure. On the consumer side, it also serves up mobile apps to help drivers find stations and pay for their charge.
Under Shell’s stewardship, Greenlots will now be able to accelerate its “electric vehicle infrastructure deployment and management in the U.S.,” according to a statement.
The EV surge
The EV market remains modest relative to petrol and diesel, but it is growing fast. China leads the way — it represents around 37 percent of passenger EV sales globally since 2011. According to Bloomberg NEF, cumulative EV sales hit the four million mark a few months back — which isn’t a lot considering there are more than a billion cars on the world’s roads. However, this clouds the underlying trend — it took around five years to sell the first million electric cars, and about one-and-a-half years to sell the second million, followed by just six months to hit the four million milestone. Bloomberg NEF predicts we’ll hit five million EVs sold by around March, 2019.
In the U.S. last year, EV sales grew by more than 80 percent. As an overall percentage, EV sales barely scratch the surface of total vehicle sales, but looking at the growth numbers it’s clear where things are heading, with some carmakers already signed up to making hybrid or all-electric cars only starting this year.
Shell latest acquisition represents something of a trend across the technology spectrum — an age-old “established player” buying the young disruptors to future proof their businesses. Back in 2017, Shell bought one of Europe’s biggest EV charging networks NewMotion, while last year fellow oil and gas giant BP bought Chargemaster, the U.K.’s largest EV charger network. Shell is actually already offering EV charging stations at some of its forecourts.
Elsewhere, a few months back Shell’s venture arm, Shell Ventures, led a $31 million investment in stealth electric car-charging startup Ample, while BP’s VC arm led a $15 million investment into Freewire, to expand its portable charging technology for EVs.
“As our customers’ needs evolve, we will increasingly offer a range of alternative energy sources, supported by digital technologies, to give people choice and the flexibility, wherever they need to go and whatever they drive,” noted Mark Gainsborough, executive VP of new energies for Shell. “This latest investment in meeting the low-carbon energy needs of U.S. drivers today is part of our wider efforts to make a better tomorrow. It is a step towards making EV charging more accessible and more attractive to utilities, businesses and communities.”
Don’t let such grand proclamations fool you though. While there is a concerted push to future proof their businesses, this doesn’t mean that the oil giants are going all-in on EVs. Back in November, news emerged that lobbying groups were pushing to kill-off efforts to revive federal tax credits for electric vehicles. One of those trade groups was The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, which includes members such as Shell and BP.
via VentureBeat https://venturebeat.com
January 31, 2019 at 02:25AM