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Shell Oil Backing Away from Retail, Focusing on EV Charging — Selling 1,000 Fuel Retail Locations

Shell Oil Backing Away from Retail, Focusing on EV Charging — Selling 1,000 Fuel Retail Locations

BY Jennifer Sensiba

A recent article at Yahoo Finance explains that Shell is going to start backing away from retail fuel stations to better focus on EV charging. As part of this effort, 1,000 fuel retail locations will be sold while more EV charging stations will be installed at the remaining locations the company owns.

The plan will be to start by closing 500 Shell-owned stations during 2024, and then closing another 500 during 2025. This will free up money to open more Shell Recharge stations. 

The company didn’t specify how many of those stations would be opened, but it did tell media that the plan is to focus on stations in China and Europe, where demand is higher. The commentator suggests it will probably be about 200,000 chargers. This isn’t to say there will be no Shell Recharge stations in the United States, as there are already such stations here and there.

To put the announcement into perspective, 1,000 stations is only about 2% of current Shell locations, so this won’t have a big impact on that. It also doesn’t include Shell-branded stations run by other companies that only buy fuel from Shell. It’s also important to note that Shell sees opportunities beyond putting EV charging at gas stations.

The plan is to put them anywhere that will work, including retail and other high-traffic places, because the company wants to profit from charging directly and not just from inside the stores. That said, from what I’ve seen on PlugShare, Shell Recharge’s current U.S. network is going to need some serious work. The biggest issue is likely that Shell purchased the Greenlots network that seemed to be suffering from neglect in many locations.

Looking around PlugShare, many locations score less than 10, and given PlugShare’s methodology for calculating a score, anything shy of a 10 generally indicates a serious reliability problem that needs to be addressed. But the emphasis on charging in Europe and Asia, where there’s both greater support for EVs and less hare-brained opposition, might mean the U.S. network stays like this for a while. Hopefully they get things into a better position soon so that the company doesn’t earn a bad reputation early on.

It’s important to note that Shell is not the only company working on getting into EV charging. BP is also getting into charging in big ways, with a $100M contract to purchase charging stations from Tesla. These BP Pulse stations will show up at a variety of locations owned or operated by BP, including ampm, Amoco, Thorntons, and Travelcenters of America.

Another big oil retailer and producer getting into charging is Phillips 66. I tried out one of that company’s first EV charging stations in 2022, and the Freewire Boost stations worked exactly as they should. The bathrooms were clean. The amenities were great. If it had been mealtime, that was available, too. So, some places are quite serious about getting EV charging right for drivers.

This article at Charged EVs covers some other companies, and even then, it’s not an exhaustive list! At the end of the day, we see a trend of oil companies trying to keep their place in the market.

While production from the well to the refinery to the station won’t be the same, drivers currently do trust these companies enough to trust the health of a complex internal combustion engine to them. If they can keep things going right for EVs, these companies will be able to stay in business long into the future.

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