The great electric car switchover: matching infrastructure with demand
Shell Recharge Solutions aims to lead the development of electric vehicle infrastructure to go beyond the charge points
Many governments, including the UK, are regulating petrol - and diesel-powered cars to the history books. The future of mobility – whether private cars, commercial vehicles, fleets or public transport – is changing to lower carbon alternatives, including electric. This transition to e-mobility demands more than just extra charging points. Entire infrastructures need to be created to support sweeping changes to the way we move around.
Shell Recharge Solutions, previously NewMotion, plans to be part of a holistic approach to getting more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads. The business unites NewMotion in Europe and Greenlots in North America and Asia under one brand identity and complements its offering with fast charging via Shell Recharge’s public network.
Melanie Lane, CEO of Shell Recharge Solutions Europe, describes the company’s strategy as “being able to provide the whole ecosystem to help businesses and consumers in their transition to e-mobility. Essentially, customers will have access to EV charging on-the-go, at home and at work”. In practical terms, this translates into a global portfolio of charging solutions that will help meet the needs of EV drivers and businesses in different stages of their transition to zero-emission transport.
“We are aiming to operate more than 500,000 charging points worldwide by 2025 and 2.5 million by 2030 – this is part of our energy transition plan,” says Lane, referring to Shell’s expansion into the EV charging sector. “Our plan to roll out charging points will be market- and consumer-led. Migrating at scale to EVs requires many things to come together – nothing can happen in isolation.”
Shell Recharge Solutions is focused on offering EV drivers what they need for a seamless EV driving experience. That means an ecosystem of charging solutions that is affordable, convenient and globally accessible.
The demand for charging at home and at the workplace is helping Shell Recharge Solutions determine its geographical expansion, with the EU at the forefront.
“It’s a combination of consumer and business demand, and government policy – the European market is very fast-paced,” says Lane. She explains that, in Asia, the market potential varies between countries, while in the US, president Joe Biden’s EV rollout policies are “very encouraging”.
In the UK, there is incredible opportunity to further enhance the convenience for the customer, including around residential charging points. For example, the government has set a target of building 300,000 new houses by the mid-2020s with all new homes requiring EV charge points to be installed. This, in conjunction with a £20m investment in installing on-street charge points, demonstrates significant focus on EV-charging infrastructure. Shell Recharge Solutions will be a key provider of products and services as these measures stimulate more demand from customers.
“We plan to work with property developers as home charging is a big area for us,” says Lane, adding that home charging is “multi-faceted”, with the company having plans for installations in houses and apartments.
Shell Recharge Solution’s 2021 EV driver survey found that even though there are now more than 29,000 charging points in the UK, 33.3% of EV drivers are unable to install a charging point at their home and a further 15% have no access to charging at work. Combined with the added inconvenience of needing multiple charge cards and subscriptions while on the go, the EV user experience can become complicated. However, customers of Shell Recharge Solutions benefit from a public roaming network of more than 275,000 charge points in Europe and 10,000 in the UK – all of which can be accessed via a single charge card or app.
The survey highlighted that lack of infrastructure is a barrier to more drivers replacing fossil fuel-powered cars with EVs – and it causes so-called ‘charge point’ anxiety for existing EV drivers. More than half (57%) of UK drivers worry about the lack of available charge points in the near future as EVs become more mainstream.
“This is a logical consequence if drivers cannot be sure they will have access to charge points for their entire trip,” says Lane. “That is another reason why it is so important to match charging infrastructure with demand.”
Infrastructure development is where Lane says Shell Recharge Solutions’ plans go beyond simply installing charge points, with the company planning to help businesses and consumers go electric. “We can enable smart infrastructure with hardware and software, offering additional services to consumers and businesses,” she says. “These range from charging insights, the availability of the nearest available public charge point and energy management services that help manage the increasing demand on the grid.
“Shell also has a service station forecourt network, which is an essential part of combating the range anxiety for both private and professional drivers. For business customers, the challenges in switching to an all-electric fleet need to be addressed. We are working at an industry level and a company level to support the energy transition in businesses.”
Logistics companies, for example, need to feel reassured that they will be able to keep all EVs charged and that making the transition away from combustion engine vehicles won’t affect the bottom line.
“In the long term, logistics providers will be able to enjoy the benefits of owning EVs because of the lower total costs of ownership,” says Lane. “They should be worrying about their next delivery, not where they’re going to charge their vehicle.”
Whether Shell Recharge Solutions is catering to private or business customers, Lane believes the hardware it provides must “balance affordability, quality and capability” to scale up effectively. This innovation-driven approach involves a committed research and development team, as well as establishing partnerships to improve access to charging infrastructure.
Lane put the time-sensitive nature of the EV rollout challenge into the context of climate change mitigation targets. “Unlike the growth of internal combustion engine car usage, there is a serious urgency to this work – low carbon transport is on top of the agenda for many and driving a low carbon future has never been more important,” she says.
“Cleaner transportation is essential to this future, and EV charging infrastructure is as important as EV adoption to making this change.”
As governments set deadlines for ending the sale of new internal combustion engine cars, the enormity of how transport is evolving – and the day-to-day practicalities for drivers – cannot be overstated. A ban on the sale of new cars powered purely by fossil fuels comes into effect in 2030 in the UK and 2035 in the EU.
“It is about societal, environmental and political change - and we are at the nexus of it. This industry is evolving daily and it is very exciting,” she concludes.
Find out more about Shell Recharge Solutions and start your EV charging journey at uk.shellrecharge.com/public-charging
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