Royal Dutch Shell is partnering with worldwide carmakers to offer ultra-fast chargers on highways in Europe, beating rivals to the punch in a race to remove one off the largest obstacles the electric car sector still faces.
The agreement between Shell and IONITY – a joint venture involving BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen – will bring at first, high-powered docks at 80 sites along highways during 2019, said a prepared statement on Monday.
Power behemoths that include Engie from France and E.ON from Germany, along with smaller participants like ChargePoint a U.S. startup, are all putting up vehicle charging networks across Europe, but Shell said that IONITY technology is the key to addressing problems with trip distances between charges.
While only a tiny fraction of the worldwide car market is electric vehicles, growth is rapidly increasing and an extended period of low prices of crude has prompted oil giants to reassess their business models as the world moves toward transportation that is cleaner.
Under the projections of Shell the company is expecting the global fleet of electric vehicles to expand from its current 1% of the overall auto fleet it is today to over 10% before the end of 2025, which will displace demand for oil equal to approximately 800,000 barrels daily.
Shell rival BP said during August that it was discussing with makers of electric cars deals to offer recharging docks for batteries at its gasoline-service stations.
The number of charging points for electric vehicles in Europe close to tripled between 2014 and 2017 to almost 120,000 according to data released by the European Alternative Fuels Observatory.
Nevertheless, manufacturers have been struggling with offering solutions to help drivers go beyond just short journeys, mostly staying in cities, because of the limitations of batteries, few charging stations and the length of time to charge.
With IONITY technology, vehicles with capacity for advanced charging of as much as 350 kilowatts, will take only between five and eight minutes to be fully charged, said Shell. It currently can take up to several hours for a charge to complete on a regular electric battery.
Istvan Kapitany the head of retail for Shell said that customers want to travel on longer journeys using their electric vehicles, but need to feel confident there exist comfortable, reliable and convenient locations to charge their vehicles quickly.
The 80 stations for charging will be spread across Belgium, Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia.