Royal Dutch Shell has accelerated its drive into the electric vehicle market by teaming up with Europe's fastest charging network.
The collaboration with Ionity, which is backed by major carmakers, will roll out across 80 of Shell’s biggest European petrol stations to allow drivers of the latest generation of electric cars to charge up in as little as five to 10 minutes.
The Ionity joint venture was formed in recent weeks by BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen with Audi and Porsche to create a network of 350kW chargers next to major highways in Europe.
The group has already clinched a deal with Austrian oil company OMV, rest stop operator Tank and convenience store chain Circle K in its bid to extend a high-power charging network across 50pc of all petrol stations by the end of the decade.
The innovation is likely to provide a major boost for the electric vehicle market by reassuring drivers that charge points will be available on long journeys, as well as offering an alternative if charging at home is not possible.
István Kapitány, Shell’s global retail boss, said: “Demand for electric vehicle charging on Europe’s major highways is set to grow rapidly. We are pre-empting drivers’ need to charge quickly by becoming one of Ionity’s major partners, giving customers access to the fastest charge points across 10 European countries.”
The team-up also forms a key part of Shell’s strategy to diversify its portfolio amid a wider global shift away from fossil fuels towards cleaner sources of energy.
The Sunday Telegraph reported earlier this year that Shell is poised to launch its first no-petrol fuelling station in London next year to offer motorists biofuels, electric vehicle charge points and hydrogen cell refuelling instead of traditional petrol and diesel pumps.
Britain’s electricity networks are also preparing for the electric vehicle boom. SSE, which has 3.7 million network customers, estimates that car charging will drive demand for power 5GW higher by 2025, but could also provide a valuable source of stored power to help balance the grid.
SSE Networks and Northern Power Grid have both called for feedback on plans to help households make money from electric vehicles, homes batteries and solar panels by selling the power to other users connected to the same network.
Northern Power Grid has said electric vehicles could create as much as 11GW of flexible power capacity by developing a ‘smart grid’ in which its 8 million energy users can also act as energy producers.
Patrick Erwin, from Northern Powergrid, said: “The transition to a reliable, cost-effective, low-carbon network offers huge opportunities for the economic prosperity of our region. We want to build this smart grid around the needs of our customers, delivering them the best service at the lowest possible cost.”