British-Dutch oil and gas supermajor Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) is to buy ubitricity, a leading European on-street charging provider and the largest charging network in the United Kingdom.
Shell signed an agreement on January 25 to buy complete ownership of ubitricity, representing an important step forward in the company’s efforts to build up its electric vehicle credentials and its goals of supporting the transition to lower-carbon transport.
Founded in Germany, ubitricity currently operates across a number of European countries, including Germany and France, and operates the largest public EV charging network in the United Kingdom with over 2,700 charge points accounting for 13% of the country’s share of public charge points. The company also boasts over 1,500 private charge points for fleet customers across Europe.
ubitricity’s selling point is its effort to work with local authorities to integrate public EV charging points into existing street infrastructure such as lamp posts and bollards.
“What excites so many people about ubitricity is that our integration of EV charge points into existing on-street infrastructure makes EV charging easy and accessible for everyone who needs it, where they need it,” said Lex Hartman, ubitricity’s CEO.
“Particularly in larger cities where there is limited access to off-street parking, this is the solution many people have been waiting for to allow them to transition to EV ownership. Combining this piece of the puzzle with Shell’s existing range of EV charging solutions gives EV drivers access to a full range of charging options, making Shell and ubitricity a perfect match.”
Shell’s acquisition will further accelerate the company’s expansion into the on-street EV charging market, helping to scale the company’s overall EV charging offerings which already includes over 1,000 ultra-fast and fast charging points at approximately 430 Shell retail sites plus worldwide access to over 185,000 third party EV charging points.
“Working with local authorities, we want to support the growing number of Shell customers who want to switch to an EV by making it as convenient as possible for them,” said István Kapitány, Executive Vice President of Shell Global Mobility.
“On-street options such as the lamp post charging offered by ubitricity will be key for those who live and work in cities or have limited access to off-street parking. Whether at home, at work or on-the-go, we want to provide our customers with accessible and affordable EV charging options so they can charge up no matter where they are.”
Shell has set itself the target of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, or sooner. Shell was one of the most prominent proponents of the UK accelerating their ban on fossil fuel car sales to 2030, which was realised in November.
Shell is also behind the 759MW Hollandse Kust (noord) offshore wind projects that are currently expected to combine offshore wind with a floating solar park, short-term battery storage, and a green hydrogen electrolyser for additional storage.
Shell’s acquisition of ubitricity follows a year in which the EV charging networks across the United Kingdom repeatedly hit the headlines.
At the start of the year, French energy giant EDF acquired EV charging network provider Pod Point in a joint venture that it hopes will secure a leading position in the growing electric mobility market. Pod Point is the UK’s third largest EV network with 11.5% of the share of publicly available charge points.
This was followed several months later by an announcement from fast-food giant McDonald’s that its drive-thru restaurants in the United Kingdom would begin to offer customers access to rapid charging points through a new partnership with InstaVolt, the largest owner-operated network of rapid EV chargers in the UK.
In September, French oil & gas major Total acquired London’s largest EV charging network, Sources London, with over 1,600 on-street charge points located across the city, in a move intended to further demonstrate Total’s commitment to and support of EV charging across Europe.
Two months later, Total won a tender awarded by the City of Paris to modernise and extend its public EV charging network which the company expects to increase to 2,300 EV charging points.
And, before the year closed out, UK renewable energy company Gridserve announced in December the opening of the UK’s first ever Electric Forecourt, boasting 36 high power EV chargers and a service centre with numerous retailers WHSmith