Shell plans thousands of ultra-rapid vehicle chargers on UK forecourts

Plans to install 5,000 rapid and ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers in Britain by 2025 have been set out by Royal Dutch Shell.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major also is planning to invest in slower on-street public charging points as it seeks to cement a market-leading position established through the acquisition of Ubitricity in February.

The plans form part of Shell’s low-carbon strategy unveiled in February. It is aiming to operate half a million electric vehicle charging points globally by 2025 and as many as 2.5 million by 2030.

Shell has just over 100 “rapid” 50-kilowatt and “ultra-rapid” 150KW chargers on its forecourts in Britain and is in the process of doubling this number by the end of this year. All forecourt installations are now ultra-rapid devices, which can add about 50 miles of range in ten minutes.

Sinead Lynch, Shell’s UK boss, said: “The ambition is to go to 5,000 by 2025. That’s not just going to be on the forecourts: we’re also wanting to step into that ‘destination charging’ space with the rapid and ultra-rapid . . . so you could see them in the car parks of supermarkets.”

The company owns about half of the 1,000 Shell-branded petrol stations in Britain, the rest being franchises. Lynch said that she expected the 500 Shell-owned forecourts to have an average of one or two ultra-rapid chargers per site by 2025, although some would have many more, especially on A-roads, on motorways and in cities.

“This is quite a lot of money we’re going to spend, so you have to spend it wisely where the commercial case is strongest,” she said. Many forecourts would have “a hybrid model for decades”, but Shell would cease to sell petrol entirely at some sites, such as in Fulham in west London, where it had removed liquid fuel tanks and infrastructure and had replaced them with ten ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging points. Lynch said that Shell wanted to develop “the forecourt of the future”, with coffee shops and parcel pick-up.

Shell, which reported a record loss of $19.9 billion last year as oil prices tumbled, has committed to eliminate its emissions footprint to “net zero” by 2050. It is trying to win over investors to its “customer-facing” strategy in which electric vehicle charging is central. It already has almost 80,000 charging points globally, of which many are “slow” (sub-5KW) and “fast” (7KW to 22KW) chargers that take hours to charge a car. In Britain this includes about 2,700 on-street public charging points acquired through the purchase of Ubitricity, making Shell the largest public charging operator in the UK.

“The fuels market is slowly declining and the charging market is growing rapidly, so if we want to keep that market-leading position — and we do — we are going to have to grow that business quite considerably,” Lynch said.

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