Is Big Oil Adapting To Make The Transition To Electric Cars?

Charging Tesla

JUL 15 2018 BY EVANNEX 15


Big Oil and its allies are doing what they can to delay the day of reckoning, but it’s just a matter of time before fossil-powered vehicles join sailing ships, horse-drawn carriages and bowler hats in making the transition from necessary to nostalgic.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Tesla Model S at a NewMotion charging station in Germany (Image: Charged via NewMotion)

Recognizing that they can’t beat ‘em in the end, three Europe-based oil multinationals are making preliminary moves to join ‘em, as a recent article in Energy Voice reports.

French-flagged Total has acquired electric utility Direct Énergie, apparently with an eye to selling electricity to EV drivers.

Royal Dutch Shell has been an early mover in the oil-to-electrons trend – it also bought itself a utility, UK-based First Utility. The Anglo-Dutch oiligarch has also entered the retail EV charging space, following two different strategies in parallel. Shell has acquired charging network operator NewMotion, which manages over 30,000 charging points in 25 European countries. It has also begun installing DC fast charging stations at its own branded retail locations in Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and the Philippines – Shell Recharge, operated in partnership with Allego, is now available at several London-area service stations.

Above: Oil companies are moving in on the electric vehicle charging space (Image: Energy Voice

Meanwhile, rival BP has taken several steps toward the electrified future. It recently announced the purchase of Chargemaster, which claims to be the UK’s largest charge point supplier and operator, with some 6,500 public and 30,000 residential chargers in its empire. BP has already installed over 70 charging stations at retail sites in several countries. It also recently invested $5 million in FreeWire, a manufacturer of mobile EV charging systems, and $20 million in battery developer StoreDot.

BP Chargemaster plans a speedy rollout of ultra-fast charging infrastructure, including 150 kW chargers, which could allow EV drivers to top up in 10 minutes. This could be a boon to BP’s retail business for a couple of reasons. In the UK and Europe, BP’s main retail markets, many consumers live in flats with no assigned parking spaces, so they don’t have the option of charging at home. Also, retail gas stations make little or no profit on selling fuel – drinks, snacks and ciggies are where they earn their dosh, so it makes no difference if it’s petrol or electrons bringing the punters to the forecourt.

If there’s any doubt that (European) oil majors see the writing on the garage wall, a recent statement by the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell should lay that to rest. Ben van Beurden told The Guardian that he would have no problem with moving forward the date of the UK’s proposed phase-out of internal combustion vehicles.

Above: A look at one of the first “Shell Recharge” stations in London (Youtube: fullychargedshow)

“If you would bring [the date] forward, obviously that would be welcome,” said van Beurden, adding that such a move would provide clarity and make it easier for companies like Shell to make investment decisions and shift consumer attitudes. “I think the UK will have to go at a much higher speed than the speed the rest of the world can go.”

Van Beurden noted that a lot of work will be needed to cut emissions from transport, which is now the sector with the biggest carbon footprint in the UK, since the rise of electricity from renewable sources has cut emissions from the energy sector.


Written by: Charles Morris

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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15 Comments on "Is Big Oil Adapting To Make The Transition To Electric Cars?"

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“Big Oil and its allies are doing what they can to delay the day of reckoning, but it’s just a matter of time before fossil-powered vehicles join sailing ships, horse-drawn carriages and bowler hats in making the transition from necessary to nostalgic.”

Ahem….some of the first cars were EV’s so the “nostalgia” comment comes back to bite the author. Same for sailing. Had the author been awake for it, there was one of the greatest sports comebacks in sports history on the San Francisco Bay in super tech sailing catamarans blasting around faster than the wind on the SF Bay. The foiling 21st century seems to have passed by our stuck in the past correspondent.

Well, as far as the STATES are concerned – yes it is true that ‘EV’s’ predated ICE cars, as well as ELECTRIC PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION was much more integrated into daily life 90 years ago, than it is today.

But for most of us alive today, its a good thing that companies at least are testing the waters with their Convenience Gasoline (Petrol) stations to add a Fast Charger or two and see how customers react…..

I’m sure they will test plenty of different types of locations – this one in a CLEARLY CONGESTED location of London, where real estate is no doubt very dear and cars are piled up on top of each other.

I think its a good thing that they are experimenting to see what works including ‘Lets go Half-ers’ on the electricity cost, to at least get people to try it. Perhaps the next thing to try is a some what more suburban location with more places for the EV’s to Queue Up.

The fact that EVs existed in the distant past doesn’t affect the observation that dino-juice cars will be relegated to the realm of nostalgia in the foreseeable future.

The fact that sailboats are used in sporting events doesn’t change the fact that they are firmly in the realm of nostalgia as a means of transportation — just like horses.

Yup. The ability to sail faster than the wind is nothing new; you just need a narrow low-drag hull, a large spread of sail, and sail across the wind rather than with it.

Now, what is fairly new is that some wind-driven land craft have managed to sail both downwind and upwind faster than the wind, which is a remarkable engineering achievement. (link below) But it’s just a stunt; we’re not going to return to wind-driven craft for practical or commercial purposes!

Notice the negative votes for negative comments.

I switched my vehicles to electric, powered by my solar panels, for a reason. This may sound incredibly close-minded, but after witnessing the slimy lengths that petroleum companies have gone to and continue going to in order to protect their bottom lines, I have no appetite to give them one red cent. Especially considering these chargers are born out of a grudging recognition of the coming EV tsunami. While I don’t fault anyone else for using Shell’s feel-good PR chargers, I’ll take a pass on those. Too little, too late in my opinion.

Big oil is going to be replaced by electric utilities as the provider of energy for electric transportation CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS thanks

To be fair, Shell did invest in PV manufacturing quite a while back… (Before the PV market was eaten by the Chinese makers.)

The time at the charger is greater than the pump.

Sounds like the extra 10-15 minutes you save at the pump are worth that extra $35-$40 per gas pump visit, eh?

Quite probably not. If you charge mostly at home, and use destination charging, then your time spent “at the charger” is a few seconds to plug and unplug, whilst with an ICE your total time at pump would have been higher as you must wait.

There’s a lot of focus on “road trips” especially in these US based forums, but for most drivers, witha high % of commute and local travel, with most charging at home, work and destination, and “road trip” mileage is a small%, its almost certain they would spend overall more time at pump than charger.

We are talking charge stations versus gas stations…stay focused.

I find it odd, that when more and more Americans don’t have vacations while more and more people don’t take what they have people focus on the extra 40 minutes to charge vs. Gas. Yet they totally ignore how long it takes to make the money to pay for gas. As usual, we are ed bad at math.

“The STONE AGE didn’t end for lack of stones and the OIL AGE won’t end for lack of oil.”

I can only speak for North Carolina and eastern TN but I have charged up with DCFC at Exxon, BP, and Sheetz gas stations. I think Big Oil is testing the waters as far as electric vehicle charging goes.