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Shell, the world's 5th biggest oil company, just bought an EV charging company for $169 million — here's why

Shell will now operate more than 57,000 charging stations.

Gas giant Shell bought Volta

One oil and gas company is shelling out some serious cash to purchase a massive electric vehicle (EV) charging network.

On Jan. 18, gasoline behemoth Shell bought Volta, a company that currently operates more than 3,000 EV charging stations across the U.S. and Europe, for $169 million.

Shell's all-cash purchase of Volta will be its second acquisition of a charging company, as the oil company also purchased the corporation Greenlots in 2019. With the new purchase of Volta, Shell will now operate more than 57,000 charging stations. 

Over the past year, Volta has struggled financially, giving Shell an opportunity to purchase the EV charging network for a good price. 

Volta's interim CEO, Vince Cubbage, defended the decision to sell the company to the oil giant, explaining in a statement that, "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."

The majority of Volta's charging stations currently allow people to charge their EVs for free, for up to half an hour. 

But since Shell has paid a fortune for this network of charging stations, one might wonder if the company will reverse this policy; however, Shell has indicated that it has no "immediate" plans to change this.

The dirty energy company plans to operate half a million EV charging stations by the end of 2025, hoping to capitalize on the world's transition away from gas-powered vehicles. 

And while it's good that Shell is diversifying its offerings, providing more low-pollution options, the company is still nowhere near its "goal" of producing net-zero planet-overheating carbon pollution by 2050. According to internal PR documents, Shell doesn't plan on taking the necessary steps to achieve this target either.

So whether or not Shell knows that the future of cars is electric, or it is just interested in appearing "green," the move to purchase Volta may change the EV charging landscape for years to come.

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