There is a gradual change afoot at fuel forecourts in several markets, whether developed or developing, being led by none other than the refining and marketing units of energy behemoths, including the top 20 international oil and gas companies ranked by market capitalization – that’s the increasing visibility of electric vehicle (EV) charging points.
In Europe, much of the drive is being led by BP, Shell, Equinor (formerly Statoil) and Total, and stateside Chevron and ExxonMobil are doing likewise. What’s more, given most of the aforementioned operators are global in their outlook and operations, EV charging points are proliferating with their global portfolio and branding.
Oil giant BP’s move offers an interesting case study in Mexico. In 2017, it became the first oil major to enter fuel retailing in the country, and kicked off 100 retails points, many of which are equipped with EV charging points.
According to Dame Angela Strank, Chief Scientist at BP, the company wants “to cater to the new advanced mobility world we find ourselves in with not only conventional vehicles, but electric vehicles, connected cars and autonomous vehicles.”
The oil giant has similar plans for China, and is eyeing India’s market too, in a partnership with Reliance. BP’s rivals are at it too, and there is a very solid reason for that, according to the Høvik, Norway-headquartered global quality assurance and risk management firm DNV GL.
The firm’s modelling suggests that by 2033 “half of all new cars sold globally” will be electric.
“This growth will follow an S-shaped curve of innovation, with EV sales increasing from less than 10% to more than 90% within a 10-year period, resembling the fast transition seen with technologies such as digital cameras,” says Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL.
Several countries including Germany, Norway, Netherlands, U.K., France and India, have already set out targets to phase-out or ban petrol and diesel cars in the years to come, something Engel says is “achievable”.
“The growth of EVs signals real progress in reducing our carbon emissions globally. To overcome the challenges facing the industry, the development of EVs and associated infrastructure will need to go from being only policy-driven to also being market-driven,” he adds.
Given there are challenges facing the uptake of EVs, including range anxiety and concerns about infrastructure, conventional fuel retailers, with strategically located fuel points in urban and suburban areas, hope to, and are stepping, into the breach.
And it’s not just EVs; Shell’s ongoing pan-European pilot scheme is promoting hydrogen as an alternative mobility fuel.
But Big oil can also take heart from the fact that the International Energy Agency believes oil demand will still grow to 2030 (and beyond) driven by petrochemicals and aviation. Undoubtedly, quite a few of those petrodollars will be channeled towards retail operations focused on EVs.