FILE PHOTO: A worker checks the valve of an oil pipe at the Lukoil owned Imilorskoye oil field near Kogalym, Russia, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has launched a fast-charging service for electric vehicles at three Shell service stations near London and in northern England, the company said on Wednesday.
The service, which charges most electric vehicle batteries from zero to 80 percent within half an hour, is the oil major's first foray into fast-charging electric vehicles, whose use is set to grow with consumers' demand for cleaner cars.
Shell will expand the service further in Britain and into the Netherlands and the Philippines, the company said.
The launch comes a week after Shell announced the acquisition of NewMotion, one of Europe's largest electric- vehicle charging networks.
"Shell believes electric vehicles will form a material part of the transport network going forward," Jane Lindsay-Green, Shell UK future fuels manager, told reporters.
Shell expects around a quarter of the world's car fleet to be electric by 2040.
Currently, there are fewer than 100,000 electric vehicles on the roads. Morgan Stanley estimates that 1 million to 3 million public charging points may be needed in Western Europe by 2030 to meet rising demand.
Oil companies are increasingly aware of the threat to parts of their downstream business from electric transport. Shell rival BP said in August it was in talks with electric vehicle makers about partnering to offer charging stations at its retail sites.
Customers using Shell Recharge pay 49 pence per kilowatt-hour (kWh) after the end of a promotional 25 pence-per-kWh offer until the end of June 2018. They pay using a mobile payment app that is subscription-free. The service will be available at 10 British locations by the end of the year.
Shell already offers electric-vehicle charging through a partner scheme in Norway and earlier this year opened a hydrogen refuelling station in Britain.
"This is a new space for Shell. We need to be exploring different opportunities ... We're starting small and are going to learn quickly. Then we're going to move in 2018 based on what our customers want," Lindsay-Green said.