The nation’s largest gas station chain is betting that battery-powered cars are here to stay, as Shell USA Inc. announced today that it has completed its planned $169 million acquisition of electric vehicle (EV) charging startup Volta Charging Inc.
Houston-based Shell said the move positions it to own and operate one of the largest public EV charging networks in the U.S. Specifically, Volta has a network of over 3,000 charge points across 31 U.S. states and territories, and a development pipeline of more than 3,400 additional sites. Those sites would join Shell’s 12,432 gas stations, a network that ranks it above fossil fuel competitors like Exxon (11,971 stations) and Chevron (7,015 stations).
San Francisco-based Volta generates most of its revenue through advertising services, not electricity sales, since those chargers are all located at destination sites such as shopping centers, grocery stores, and pharmacies. The firm sells ads on each of its charging kiosks, which feature large-format digital advertising screens located adjacent to retail shops.
Since those chargers are built in commercial parking lots and curbside spots, Shell’s move would likely affect the logistics sector mostly by supporting private cars and gig economy delivery services, as opposed to fleets of large trucks. But the news came the same day that federal regulators gave a big boost to the overall EV industry by approving a California plan to require that about half the trucks sold in California must be all-electric by 2035.
According to Shell, buying Volta is part of its plan to grow quickly from the 140,000 public and private EV charge points it currently operates around the world. The gas giant plans to operate more than 500,000 EV charge points by 2025 and 2.5 million charge points by 2030.
“We want to make charging as convenient as possible for our customers,” István Kapitány, executive vice president of Shell Mobility, said in a release. “As demand for EV charging continues to grow, destination sites will play a key role in meeting people where they spend a great deal of time: the store, the gym, and everywhere in-between. Beyond providing a charging service, Volta specializes in generating advertising revenues from screens embedded into the charge point, adding a source of non-fuel revenue from sites both in the U.S. and globally.”
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