As the auto industry moves to fully electric vehicles, big oil companies are looking to keep their share of the wealth. In the latest news, oil giant Shell is buying out EV charging and media company Volta.
Big oil goes after EV charging
With an increasing number of automakers and nations committing to fully electric vehicles and the auto industry’s future becoming clearer, oil companies are doing their part to ensure they remain relevant throughout the transition.
Electric vehicles accounted for 10% of total global auto sales for the first time in 2022, crossing a significant threshold as the industry sets its sights on scaling EV production.
Over the past several years, big oil giants like Shell have made several acquisitions and other investments to expand their EV charging network and diversify away from gas-related sales.
The oil company rolled out some of its first EV charging stations in 2017 and acquired New Motion later that year, giving them immediate access to 30,000 stations across Europe. Shell has since followed up with several new investments and buyouts in addition to partnering with big names like Nio and BYD to expand its network.
Shell currently operates around 90,000 EV charging ports at homes, businesses, and Shell-branded locations, with an extra 300,000 stations available through its roaming networks.
By 2025, Shell looks to operate over 500,000 EV charging ports as it transitions its business to the new era of zero-emission electric vehicles. The company’s latest acquisition will get it one step closer to its goal.
Shell buys Volta in an all-cash deal
In a press release today, Volta announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement where Shell USA will buy the company in an all-cash deal worth around $169 million.
Volta is San-Francisco-based EV charging and media company with Level 2 charging stations deployed at grocery stores, shopping malls, banks, and other business or retail locations.
Vince Cubbage, Volta’s Interim CEO, explains the transaction is designed to benefit shareholders while providing a clear path forward for the company, saying:
The shift to e-mobility is unstoppable, and Shell recognizes Volta’s industry-leading dual charging and media model delivers a public charging offering that is affordable, reliable, and accessible. While the EV infrastructure market opportunity is potentially enormous, Volta’s ability to capture it independently, in challenging market conditions and with ongoing capital constraints, was limited. This transaction creates value for our shareholders and provides our exceptional employees and other stakeholders a clear path forward.
A big oil company like Shell acquiring a leading EV charging company builds on the EV momentum as more drivers choose zero-emission electric vehicles.
As part of the deal, Shell will supply loans to Volta to help bridge them through closing the deal. In addition, Shell USA will acquire all outstanding Class A common stock of Volta at $0.86 per share in cash.
When I hear big oil investing in clean, sustainable energy, the word greenwashing generally comes to mind. However, in this case, it seems Shell is looking toward the industry’s future to maintain its revenue stream and brand status.
Top comment by acampb
We have a lot of Volta chargers in the Chicago land area. All type 2 I’ve seen are free and some up to 9kw. Simple plug-in no app required is very nice. And they seem very reliable.
I’m curious to when the days of free charging will end. I also assume the local establishments put these in and subsidize them in a way but once EVs are 20% or something I don’t see it continuing.
Shell is still one of the world’s largest oil companies, but the company clearly sees where the industry is headed. The oil giant has made several acquisitions and investments over the years to diversify its revenue stream away from gas and oil-related products.
The oil company has one of the largest retail gasoline networks in the US and across the globe, so by offering EV charging at all of these locations and other public businesses, the company looks to maximize its long-term growth opportunities.
Meanwhile, expanding its EV network won’t be Shell’s biggest hurdle; winding down gas and oil operations will be.
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