Shell Is Closing 1,000 Gas Stations To Focus On EV Charging

At a time when a major petroleum trade group is launching a seven-figure campaign against the Biden administration’s latest decision to move away from gas cars, multinational oil giant Shell is rethinking its business strategy to increasingly focus on renewable energy and electric vehicle charging.

In its Energy Transition Strategy 2024 report, Shell announced that it was planning to divest 1,000 of its retail gas stations (including joint ventures) between 2024 and 2025. The company said this move was aimed at reallocating those resources towards EV charging stations “in response to customer needs.” The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

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Petroleum companies aren’t known for their affinity for EVs

Hundreds of petroleum companies lobbied the Biden administration to slow down its EV regulations. One group, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, has even launched a campaign against the EPA’s latest finalized standards. Shell, meanwhile, is looking to slowly expand its charging network globally.

Shell already has a global investment in EV charging. And it also has some experience in converting gas stations to charging hubs. By the end of 2023, the Shell Recharge EV charging division was operating around 54,000 public charge points for EVs at various locations across the world. This was up from 27,000 in 2022.

The oil giant has big plans for the remainder of the decade. It wants to install around 70,000 public charging points by 2025 and around 200,000 by 2030, the report stated.

Unloading 1,000 stations would be like removing a drop out of the ocean—it’s equivalent to just 4% of the company’s sites. Moreover, Shell hasn’t mentioned which retail locations it wants to unload, but it’s clear that it is looking to replicate some of the success it has had with EV charging stations in China in other countries as well. That includes the U.S.

Shell Recharge Charging Station In Shenzen China

In September, Shell Recharge opened its largest EV charging station at an airport in Shenzen, China. The location has 258 charging points and Shell says the customer turnout has been overwhelming, with thousands of EV drivers using the site every day.

It’s also aiming to expand its charging footprint here in the U.S. Last March, Shell USA completed the acquisition of charging company Volta. While it’s no match to the Tesla Supercharger or Electrify America networks, Shell Recharge already has over 3,000 charge points across 31 U.S. states. More than 3,400 additional charge points are in development, the company claims.

“We believe growth in oil demand is set to slow in the second half of this decade and could start falling in the 2030s because of increasing vehicle efficiency and growth in electric vehicles,” the company said in the report. Like several other market forecasts, Shell is expecting EV sales to soar in the coming years.

“Today there are around 40 million such vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) on the roads, with up to 275 million expected by 2030. The availability of charging points will be critical for the growth in electric vehicles.”

Shell’s messaging is pretty clear at this point. The entire report is filled with buzzwords like electric vehicles, charging, and decarbonization. Shell believes that in the future, gas will only play a “backup role because many industrial processes require a high reliability of power supply.”

A BYD Han EV at Shell Recharge site

Despite pulling the curtains on all of its hydrogen stations in California, Shell isn’t entirely giving up on the technology. “We also see potential for hydrogen in the long-term when it becomes cost competitive,” the report says.

Shell’s move towards EV charging comes at a time when the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade association has launched a seven-figure campaign against the Biden administration’s latest regulations to move away from gas cars.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its emissions standards for the years 2027 through 2032 yesterday. The rules would require automakers to gradually pivot towards EVs and PHEVs to meet the strictest-ever multi-pollutant emissions target in U.S. history. And to meet these targets, the U.S. needs millions of additional EV chargers.

But AFPM has falsely claimed on its website that “Americans are solidly against any government efforts aimed at banning gas cars and imposing electric vehicle mandates.” The group fears running out of business and thinks that the EPA rules are a “forced electrification agenda.”

While it is true that the U.S. is still deeply divided on electric cars, that’s mainly because of inadequate charging infrastructure, range anxiety, and lack of education. Americans overwhelmingly support action toward climate change—and EVs are an inextricable part of that effort.

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