Deep Dive: Shell buys Volta Charging, Pumps to Chargers and Charging Data Startups


You know the 'crystal ball EV industry predictions' for 2023 that we did with 65 of our readers last week?

You might have noticed that under the charging section, this specific prediction popped up:

Public market EV charging networks will be taken private.
— Reilly Brennan, Trucks VC

Well, Reilly. I think what you did with this one is called...

Ted Lasso

The fossil-to-charge acquisitions continue

Shell is set to acquire Volta Charging the US public charging network ($VLTA) for $169M in cash.

Volta has over 3,000 chargers up in the US and their flagship product is the chargers with these large ad displays on 'em, located in high-traffic commercial locations. For example, stores like Kroger and Walgreens.

Through this model, the charging is free for the driver. The company claims it exceeded one billion monthly impressions on its 4,600 screens on the chargers in the US (link).

Volta has been an acquisition target for a while now and had cash problems already last year. We reported on both the CEO Scott Mercer and President Chris Wendel (also founders) resigning from the company on Apr 1st last year here, and we called it obviously 'not a good sign'. In Q3 2022, Volta cut US full-time staff by 54% and reported a net loss of $42.5M.

The $169M price tag seems wild now, compared to when Volta went public in 2021 through a SPAC merger with TortoiseCorp II, being valued at $2B. Volta raised about $300M in funds with this and was said to have raised over $275M prior in venture funding.

This isn't the first time Shell (Shell Recharge) has scooped up a charging network either. In 2017, Shell acquired NewMotion with its 30k charging stations, then Greenlots platform in US in 2019, ubitricity in Europe in 2021 with its 4,200 charge points, and before Volta, it acquired Cable Energía in 2022 with 80 chargers in Spain and Portugal.

Shell should now have over 57,000 EV charging points, most of them Level 2.

The other gas company I've seen rolling up charging networks is bp (bp pulse), which just this week made an order for DC chargers from Tritium, which is the largest the company has received so far (link). Should we do a comparison of Shell vs bp?

My two Watts:

First Watt: I agree with Reilly and there is more to come.

Second Watt: the ad-powered charger network aside, I bet this was also a software acquisition, and Shell might've gotten it cheap. I'm more interested in Volta PredictEV tool, which uses behavioral science and machine learning to help commercial property owners, cities, and electric utilities plan EV infrastructure.


I'm fascinated by data startups connected to charging infrastructure gaining momentum. I've recently covered three of such in our Pro Reports:

  • Dutch startup Eco-Movement , which has data from 900k charger connectors from across 72 countries live in their database, raised its Series A (link) this month.
  • FreeWire Technologies, a US DC charger provider, acquired last month, which uses AI to help site hosts strategically place DC chargers for maximum return on investment (link).
  • Stable Auto raised its $14M Series A late last year, which uses quantitative data and machine learning for predicting and improving EV charging station performance. With their platform, you can anticipate the utilization of the charger on any site before installing the infrastructure.

And let's not forget what I think was the acquisition of the year 2021: EVgo buying PlugShare  for $25M. I'm very sure EVgo leverages the data behind all this for similar purposes, in addition to the obvious EV user acquisition.

If you've stumbled upon more startups in the charging infra data space, please do bring them to my attention. :)