Petrol and diesel giant Caltex is looking to position itself in the growing electric vehicle market as a provider of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, with talks under way with potential partners for an EV charging station trial.
With a global transition to electric vehicles well underway overseas and expected to take off in Australia over the coming years, Caltex CEO Julian Segal told the AFR that a trial rollout of electric vehicle charging stations is on the cards for the company.
Segal says Caltex believes the uptake of EVs in Australia will be slower than some have predicted, but says the fossil fuel giant is aware that the needs of customers are changing.
“We are not addicted in any way to hydrocarbons,” Segal told an annual shareholder meeting in Sydney in answer to questions from investors about Caltex’s strategy for the future, and after a 43 per cent slump in earnings over the past year.
“Now is the time for us to start piloting [electric car charging stations] and making sure that the experience of our customer is the best possible,” he said.
Big oil companies are also engaging with the transition to renewables and EVs. Shell predicts that by the early 2030s, electric will dominate the transport market. Shell is also looking to establish its presence in the charging market.
Infrastructure Australia has previously gone on record saying that filling gaps in Australia’s electric car charging network is paramount if Australia is to catch up with other developed countries in the shift to EVs.
“Technological change is driving significant shifts in infrastructure demand,” Infrastructure Australia Chair Julieanne Alroe said in a statement to the press in February.
While Alroe noted that an increased uptake of electric cars will forge links between the energy and transport industries as never before, fossil fuel giants such as Caltex – which has over 1,900 service stations throughout Australia – could also play a significant part to play in filling those gaps.
Caltex is however hedging their bets, it appears, with Segal also saying that other alternative, cleaner fuels, including natural gas, hydrogen and biofuels are being considered.
Caltex has previously discussed biofuels with a Central Queensland University (CQU) team that developed a way of creating biodiesel from waste grease and oil in 2016.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.