Europe's largest oil company buys Europe's largest electric vehicle charging network

New Motion network screenshot
Screen capture NewMotion

As electric vehicles begin to threaten market share, expect to see more such announcements in the future.

When the UK mandated that all gas stations will have to offer electric car charging, many commenters rightly pointed out that gas stations don't always offer the optimal location for charging, when EV drivers would, more often than not, prefer to charge while shopping, eating, working or sleeping.

We can still expect to see fast charging appear at traditional rest stops and refueling stations, and Royal Dutch Shell has already started installing such infrastructure at stations across Britain and the Netherlands.

But the company isn't putting all its electric eggs in the gas station basket. As reported over at CNET and elsewhere, Shell has also just acquired NewMotion—one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging networks that provides access to more than 80,000 charging stations at workplaces and other convenient locations, as well as offering residential charging solutions too.

This seems like a smart move from Shell. While getting in on the fast charging game for road-trippers may blunt the impact of electrification somewhat, it's hard to see how the centralized retail model of traditional filling stations translates into a world where most of us charge up at home 95% of the time. By investing itself in a broader range of solutions, including slower Level 2 charging at convenient locations where folks spend their time, Shell is in a much stronger position to continue offering "fueling" solutions, even if that fuel becomes electrons, not gallons.

Meanwhile, Cleantechnica reports that Total is looking to expedite the sale of its Italian gas stations due—in part at least—to concerns about future viability in an age of EVs.

Things could get interesting fast.

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