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Shell joins BP by investing in charging infrastructure as vehicle sales surge
Thursday 28 Jan 2021 Author: Steven Frazer

UK companies are accelerating their exposure to the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs), which showed a big jump in 2020 global sales. More than 3.2 million plug-in hybrid and battery-powered EVs were sold last year, according to data from, the Sweden-based consultancy and market researcher.

That was a 43% jump on 2019’s 2.26 million despite difficulties for buyers and dealers between March and June, during the teeth of national lockdowns, and against a 14% fall in overall global car sales.’s data shows EVs made up 4.2% of the global car market, up from 2.5% in 2019.

Tapping into this emerging opportunity earlier this week was FTSE 100 company Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB), which agreed to buy one of Europe’s largest on-street electric car-charging companies to accelerate its move into low-carbon transport.

The oil company expects the deal to buy German car-charger Ubitricity to be finalised by the end of the year. No financial details of the acquisition, nor an official stock market announcement, were released. This implies that Ubitricity will not be material to group performance in the near term, yet the strategic importance is substantial given the mounting pressure from investors to cut its carbon emissions.

The Ubitricity car-charging network includes more than 2,700 charge points across the UK, or 13% of the existing market share, and more than 1,500 charge points across Germany and France.

The deal has echoes of BP’s (BP.) own move into EV charging in the summer of 2018 when it acquired the UK’s number one charging network operator Chargemaster.

This is an interesting time for the wider EV industry with investors clamouring to back businesses with clear means to tap into long-run growth in the wake of Tesla’s stunning 700% stock run in 2020. Potentially exciting initial public offerings (IPOs) are coming thick and fast, albeit in the US.

ChargePoint, one the world’s largest charging network operators with around 115,000 charging points, expects to float next month via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), and will be backed by Baillie Gifford among others. EVgo, part of LS Power that owns and operates public fast chargers for electric vehicles, also unveiled IPO plans after agreeing its own SPAC deal. It will be valued at around $2.6 billion.

Elsewhere UK-listed companies such as engineer Ricardo (RCDO) and fuel systems designer TI Fluid (TIF) continue to build out their own EV supply chain capacity despite the huge impact of the pandemic on the motor industry.

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