NEW YORK—Shell USA has purchased EV charging company Volta for $169 million in an all-cash deal.
"The shift to e-mobility is unstoppable, and Shell recognizes Volta's industry-leading dual charging and media model delivers a public charging offering that is affordable, reliable and accessible,” said Volta’s interim CEO Vince Cubbage.
“While the EV infrastructure market opportunity is potentially enormous, Volta's ability to capture it independently, in challenging market conditions and with ongoing capital constraints, was limited. This transaction creates value for our shareholders and provides our exceptional employees and other stakeholders a clear path forward," he continued.
Shell USA will acquire all outstanding shares of Class A common stock of Volta at $0.86 per share in cash upon completion of the merger.
"Both Volta and Shell have a demonstrated ability to meet the changing needs of customers, and this acquisition will bring that experience together to provide the options that are needed as more drivers choose electric," said Cubbage.
Volta launched a media network in late 2021, and the company’s dual EV charging and media business model is based around ad sales. Volta's charging stations feature digital screens directly in front of commercial locations and display content for drivers who plug in their vehicles and customers who shop at nearby retailers. As of October 2022, its network included 5,400 digital screens in 28 states.
“We’re at the places where you’re already going [and] spending your time and resources,” Brandt Hastings, chief commercial officer at Volta, told the Wall Street Journal in an article.
Last summer, ChargePoint, an EV charger operator, announced a similar nationwide advertising network in partnership with digital display company Ara Labs Inc. and Destination Media Inc., which owns GSTV. ChargePoint is the largest operator of electric-vehicle chargers in the U.S. by number of stations with 28,753 charging stations across the U.S.
Shell’s acquisition of Volta follows other major investments in EV charging infrastructure, including Mercedes-Benz, which recently announced it is building a high-power EV charging network across North America, Europe, China and other key markets, beginning in North America.
In North America, Mercedes-Benz will collaborate with MN8 Energy, a U.S. solar energy and battery storage owner and operator, and ChargePoint. The automaker plans to have more than 400 hubs across North America with more than 2,500 high-power chargers.
Similarly, ChargePoint partnered with Volvo and Starbucks last year to establish a public EV charging network at 15 U.S. Starbucks locations. The chargers will be installed along a 1,350-mile route from the Denver area to the coffee company’s Seattle headquarters. Volvo is installing the Volvo-branded ChargePoint DC fast chargers along the route, and the company plans to have a charging location about every 100 miles. For Volvo drivers, access to these charging points will be free or at preferential rates.
In 2022, electric vehicles accounted for 10% of global car sales, totaling 7.8 million units, led by strong EV adoption in China and Europe.
EV charging remains a barrier to widespread EV adoption. In a recent Deloitte survey, 48% of respondents said range anxiety was a top concern when buying an EV, followed closely by the time required to charge (47%) and lack of public EV charging infrastructure (46%).
For consumers who do drive EVs, their top desired amenity while charging is Wi-Fi connectivity (64%). Restrooms (60%), coffee/beverages (56%) and snacks/light meals (48%) were the next most desired offerings.
When charging on the go, 24% of U.S. consumers want a dedicated EV service station, and 20% want a traditional gas station with EV chargers. However, a significant number of people surveyed (25%) in the U.S. simply want access to charging when they need it regardless of location.
Because these EV owners will have time on their hands to spend at c-stores while their vehicles recharge, some retail experts say that c-stores may be required to change their formats. Here are five things c-stores can offer waiting EV customers.
For convenience retailers looking to bring EV charging to their location(s), NACS launched the EV Infrastructure Matchmaking Tool, which connects retailers with EV charging companies for all aspects and stages of offering electric vehicle supply equipment.
NACS also offers the EV Charging Calculator, which allows retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.