Plugged-in with… Sarah Oey, General Manager e-mobility Europe
Hitting the road as a passionate EV driver herself, Sarah is dedicated to building a charging network centred around the perfect EV driver experience.
With a career at Shell spanning more than two decades, Sarah Oey, General Manager of e-mobility Europe and Chair of the Board at Cable Energia, is responsible for growing our Shell Recharge infrastructure across Europe, providing EV drivers with an improved, speedy, and reliable charging experience.
Find out how, as an EV driver herself, Sarah’s day job is all about making her charging experience the best it can be.
Shell Recharge expects to have around 70,000 public charge points by 2025. What progress is being made towards that, and what role will partnerships play in achieving that ambition?
Sarah: It’s quite simple really – as the number of EV drivers across Europe grows, so must the charging infrastructure. Fortunately, many of the macro forces, such as policies, tech development, equipment supply, landowners, and customer demand, are steadily all moving in the same direction to accelerate charging infrastructure in Europe.
I’m pleased that Shell Recharge is already present in more than 28 markets – making us one of the largest EV companies globally by country reach. In 2022, we made strong progress, deploying a new charge point every 15 minutes on average. That’s some serious pace and has taken us to around 40,000 public charge points at Shell retail sites, on-street, and other destinations across the world.
As we work towards 70,000 public charge points by 2025, it is important we look at opportunities to deliver organic growth to our network as well as accelerate expansion through strategic acquisitions. For instance, earlier this year we announced the acquisition of Swiss EV charging network evpass, providing access to 3,000 charge points – the largest network in the country. We also acquired Cable Energia, a charging infrastructure company in Iberia, that is driving the expansion of Shell Recharge in Spain and Portugal.
What aspects of customer experience need enhancing the most?
Sarah: When I talk to EV drivers, I keep hearing the same three requests: I want to easily find available charge points near me, that are simple to use, and charge my vehicle as fast as possible. As an EV user myself, I can relate to all three points.
So, the challenge is: how do we deliver on those? I’ve made it my mission to build a charge network that works for EV drivers. The Shell Recharge team is working hard to make the charging experience exactly what the customer needs by finding the right locations across Europe and installing charger types that fit the average dwell time.
I also want to help new EVs drivers navigate their new environment. I remember the anxiety I felt charging my car for the first time. I strongly believe new drivers deserve a simple and pleasurable introduction to EV charging. As the industry continues to mature, I predict customer loyalty will fall to the providers with the best overall experience.
From retailers to vehicle manufacturers, the electric mobility ecosystem covers a huge range of players. What potential do you see for increasing collaboration across the industry?
Sarah: The move to electrifying road travel is a societal shift and requires collaboration from energy suppliers and network operators, mobility providers, manufacturers, fleet operators, retailers, charging suppliers and policymakers.
I see challenges for the industry that will require intervention from governments across Europe – one of which centres around increasing the volume of connections to the grid, which is slowing down in many countries as demand increases. Policymakers should also seek the right balance between creating regulations which improve EV charging quality and coverage, while at the same time avoiding too much intervention and cost implications in what is still an early stage of the market. We need to make sure that market forces, innovation and different customer value propositions can compete as well. Overregulation presents the risk of more costly infrastructure.
At Shell Recharge, we’re working across the breadth of the EV value chain to develop our charge point offering, and provide customers with a smarter, quicker, and more seamless charging experience. We recently integrated ubitricity, a growing European provider of on-street charging for EVs. Ubitricity partners successfully with local municipalities sharing our expertise to alleviate issues around limited space for off-street parking in urban settings and add to our ‘on-the-go’ charging infrastructure.
What role do partnerships and acquisitions play when it comes to charging experience?
Sarah: An interesting misconception around EV driving is all owners have a charge point at their home. This couldn’t be further from the truth; in fact, 44% of European EV drivers rely solely on public charging solutions. So, with nearly half of drivers relying on public infrastructure, charge points must be where EV drivers need them and where they want to spend time. Speaking from personal experience, the locations where I’ve enjoyed a flawless experience are now wired into my regular routines.
Apart from building out Shell Recharge on our own service stations, the key focus for my team is to join forces with ‘destination partners’ such as grocery shops, shopping malls, restaurants, and parking garages. We aim to be where drivers have natural dwell time, so they can charge their car at the most convenient locations whilst shopping or dining.
For instance, we’ve been collaborating with leading retailers such as Waitrose in the UK, Intergamma in the Netherlands and Belgium, and the REWE Group in Germany and Austria to provide charge points at their locations.
To maximise the potential of these partnerships, we’re utilising the data available to us. For instance, we’ve created AI-based models that identify the locations where more chargers are needed to service high demand. And as shown in our latest EV Driver Survey, 57% of European drivers visit destinations with available charging more frequently. By identifying where charge points are most needed, we can create an environment where EV drivers, retailers and Shell Recharge all benefit.
As the industry continues to mature, I predict customer loyalty will fall to the providers with the best overall experience.Sarah OeyGeneral Manager e-mobility, Shell
Interested in learning how your business can improve the EV experience for drivers? Tune into our recent virtual industry panel discussion to uncover this year’s top developments in EV ownership and charging, based on feedback from nearly 25,000 EV drivers.