Big oil is increasingly taking notice of shifts in the transition towards fossil-free future, including the inevitable impacts of soaring trends in the electric car market.
As electric car sales surge—heading towards over 50 per cent of all car sales in a decade or two, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance — the potential implications for big oil in fossil fuel sales are obvious.
Multinational company Shell have made several moves already, that indicate a willingness to shift away from profits fuelled by oil and gas, such as last year’s venture into EV charging with IONITY,
The oil giant’s latest move is to lead a $31 million investment in EV charging startup Ample in a bid to provide ‘Electric Cars for Everyone’.
The funding echoes British oil major BP, which recently bought the UK’s largest EV charging network Chargemaster, and follows other recent funding opps such as funding battery maker sonnen’s expansion into Australia.
Who is Ample? Based in San Francisco, they are relative newcomers to the world of EV charging.
Formed in 2014 and headed by health and technology entrepreneurs John de Souza and Khaled Hassounah, the company aims “to solve the energy delivery challenge for electric transportation by utilizing autonomous robotics and smart-battery technology,” according to their company’s LinkedIn page.
Hassounah, CEO and co-founder of Ample, explains that their solution will change the way charging infrastructure is approached.
“Building a scalable solution for charging electric vehicles requires a new approach to infrastructure, and partners who are committed to developing electrification as the new energy downstream,” he says.
The technology makes use of autonomous robotics and smart-battery technology, according to the company’s press release, providing an alternative to traditional plugin charging.
The financing, which led by Shell Ventures along with Moore Strategic Ventures, Repsol Energy Ventures, Hemi Ventures, and TRIREC, will be used, the company says, to enable Ample’s technology to be rolled out in a number of locations in the coming months.
Steve McGrath, Investment Director of Shell Ventures, says that the investment will be another step forward for Shell in the path towards an electric transport future.
“EVs in the light and medium duty sectors are steadily gaining market share,” he says.
““Combining Ample’s technology with Shell’s existing retail network for re-fuelling and our growing position in power could help us achieve our aspirations to grow a large new business in EV energy solutions.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.