Big Oil companies have dreams of becoming Big EV.
Fossil fuel heavyweights are making investments in EV charging, battery technology, and car manufacturing.
BP recently bought $100 million worth of Tesla Superchargers for its charging network.
Even the fossil fuel industry is coming around to an electric future.
As electric vehicles go from niche to mainstream, it's clear that oil giants like Shell, BP, and Exxon Mobil want to profit off of how people get around — regardless of the fuel source.
Some are making hefty investments in charging infrastructure, a natural progression for companies that already operate thousands of gas stations. Others are also placing bets on emerging battery technologies, lithium mining, and even EV manufacturing.
European firms are leading the charge on charging, said Bruce On, a partner at EY who focuses on the energy industry. They see their vast existing footprints and understanding of the retail experience as a competitive edge, he said.
BP recently announced it would purchase $100 million worth of Tesla Superchargers, making it the first company to independently operate Elon Musk's renowned charging plugs. BP Pulse, the firm's charging business, has installed more than 27,000 charging plugs so far and aims to get to 100,000 by 2030.
Shell Recharge, the oil company's charging arm, is farther along. It operates 140,000 plugs globally and earlier this year bought Volta, a US charging provider, for $169 million. In September, it opened a massive charging hub in China with 258 stalls. For reference, charging stations in the US typically have between 4 and 12 plugs. The project was a joint effort between Shell and BYD, the leading Chinese EV company.
Big Oil is also getting into batteries, the backbone of the auto industry's electric transformation. Koch Industries, for example, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars funding companies throughout the battery supply chain, The Wall Street Journal reported.
US firms are less keen on charging and more interested in doing what they do best: getting raw materials out of the ground, On said. Exxon Mobil bought up 120,000 acres of land in Arkansas earlier this year with plans to extract and process lithium, a key material in lithium-ion EV batteries, The Journal reported. Chevron is also considering lithium mining.
Oil drilling can produce lithium-rich brine as a byproduct, which has historically been ignored. As EVs boom and the US government pushes to develop a domestic supply chain for battery materials, it makes sense that oil producers see new opportunities.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, has invested billions in EV manufacturing. It has a controlling stake in Lucid Motors, a California-based EV startup. It recently partnered with Foxconn (the iPhone maker with EV ambitions) to launch a homegrown EV brand called Ceer Motors.
Are we heading toward a future where the same companies that drove the combustion era dominate the world of EVs? We'll have to wait and see.
Read the original article on Business Insider