A new Shell Recharge Station offers a record 258 EV quick chargers – as well as a convenience store, café and lounge for motorists when they plug in. That facility is located in Shenzhen, China but, as Headlight.News reports, similar facilities will soon start popping up across the U.S.
Finding a place to plug in a battery-electric vehicle has become one of the biggest concerns for potential EV owners, but multinational energy giant Shell aims to make things a lot easier with the opening of the world’s largest charging station.
The new facility features 258 quick chargers, nearly as many as in the entire state of North Dakota. And while plugged in, motorists will have plenty to keep them busy, the new Shell station features a convenience store, a café and a driver’s lounge.
There’s just one thing: the new charging station is located at the airport in Shenzhen, China, where motorists are rapidly migrating from internal combustion to battery power. Already the world’s largest automotive market, China is now the biggest EV market, as well, accounting for 60% of global sales last year.
A better EV charging experience
“We know that EV drivers are looking for a charging experience that is fast, convenient and comfortable and this is reflected in the utilization rates of our sites in China, which are two to three times the local industry average,” István Kapitány, Shell’s Global Executive Vice President for Mobility, said in a statement.
Oil companies differ sharply in their approach to growing EV sales. Shell has become one of the most aggressive when it comes to tapping into the potential market electrification creates. In 2019, the Dutch-based giant acquired U.S.-based Greenlots, turning it into the anchor of a planned network of EV charging stations across North America. At the time, Shell’s New Energies subsidiary outlined plans to spend as much as $2 billion annually on “commercial opportunities” related to EV charging.
Up to 3,300 vehicles a day can plug in
The Shenzhen facility is a joint venture between what is now known as Shell Recharge and Build Your Dreams. One of China’s largest EV manufacturers, it’s better known as BYD.
The Shell Recharge Shenzhen Airport EV Station is still in its pilot phase but already can handle up to 3,300 EVs in a 24-hour period.
It requires a massive amount of power to operate, with today’s battery-electric vehicles typically equipped with packs of anywhere from around 60 to 100 kilowatt-hours. Some large, long-range vehicles – like the GMC Hummer EV — can push up towards 200 kWh.
To help reduce demands on the electrical grid, the station was equipped with a large solar roof which, Shell said, can produce up to 300,000 kWh of power daily.
Shifting public charging strategies
Shell’s approach shows the way charging companies are shifting strategies. Early on, many stations featured just one or two chargers and they often were isolated in remote areas. EV owners often had to wait for other motorists to finish up – something that could take an hour or more, even with quick chargers. Worse, they would have little to do other than sit in their cars and wait.
The Shenzhen facility lets motorists plug in, shop, order a coffee and food, or simply wait in an indoor lounge.
That model is expected to become increasingly common in other markets, including the U.S. Volvo, for example, is partnering with Starbucks to power up the Interstate corridor from Denver to its headquarters in Seattle. Each station will have a minimum four chargers.
Buc-ee’s has big plans
Tesla has partnered with Buc-ee’s, a company known for its mall-sized gas station and convenience store facilities. It now has Superchargers set up at Buc-ee’s facilities in seven states, and the retailers has also inked a deal with Evgo to expand its charging operations. As with the Shell operation in Shenzhen, Buc-ee’s is installing solar canopies to help augment the power it draws from the grid.
Start-up Rove plans to set up 20 EV charging stations in California – the largest electric vehicle market in the U.S. – by 2026. Each will have 40 publicly accessible fast chargers. They’ll also offer a convenience store, a café, outdoor seating with WiFi, a car wash, even a fenced in area for pets.
Access for everyone
While the Biden administration is pressing to have as many as 500,000 EV chargers in operation across the U.S. by 2030, experts do not expect to see a one-for-one swap, chargers replacing gas pumps. For one thing, 80 to 90% of EV owners currently charge at home or office, according to Pat Romano, CEO of ChargePoint. And that’s not expected to change much, he told Headlight.News.
But public charging is critical to allowing EV owners to travel longer distances, whether for work, to run errands or on vacations. Meanwhile, federal data suggest about 50 million Americans live in apartments, condos or other places where they won’t be able to set up their own chargers.