Shell to Acquire Volta’s EV Charging Network for Roughly $169 Million

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

shell to acquire voltas ev charging network for roughly 169 million

Volta Inc. has announced a merger agreement under which Shell USA would acquire Volta in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $169 million (USD). The big get here is Volta’s electric-vehicle charging network that doubles as a media board that can display advertisements, public service, announcements, and whatever else Shell might want people to see.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed gas stations with small screens that begin broadcasting corporate propaganda the second you’ve activated the pump. Volta’s EV chargers are the mega-sized version of that concept with the ability to allow customers to track each unit’s status remotely via a mobile application. This comes in handy when determining how much longer a charging station might be in use or whether it’s even functional – saving EV owners the headache of having to set back out to find a different station when there’s not an open bay.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Shell USA Inc. will acquire all outstanding shares of Class A common stock of Volta at $0.86 per share in cash upon completion of the merger, which represents an approximate 18 percent premium to the closing price of Volta stock on January 17, 2023, which happens to be the last full trading day prior to the announcement of the transaction.

“The shift to e-mobility is unstoppable, and Shell recognizes Volta's industry-leading dual charging and media model delivers a public charging offering that is affordable, reliable, and accessible,” Vince Cubbage, Volta’s Interim CEO, said in the release. “While the EV infrastructure market opportunity is potentially enormous, Volta's ability to capture it independently, in challenging market conditions and with ongoing capital constraints, was limited. This transaction creates value for our shareholders and provides our exceptional employees and other stakeholders a clear path forward."

 "Both Volta and Shell have a demonstrated ability to meet the changing needs of customers, and this acquisition will bring that experience together to provide the options that are needed as more drivers choose electric."

This is likely a wise move on the part of Shell. Owning a larger segment of North America’s EV charging infrastructure means it can profit off electrification as it becomes mainstream while also benefiting from the marketing opportunities associated with Volta’s giant screens. Buying the company out likewise means less competition moving forward – something that’ll be advantageous whether or not EVs go mainstream. But this is also a reminder that electrification is not the domain of eco-minded startups. It’s loaded up with – and arguably dominated by – the same energy companies EV advocates frequently bemoan and they’re all vying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

[Image: Volta Inc.]

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2 of 43 comments
  • Luke42 Luke42 on Feb 04, 2023

    Clearly nobody on this blog has actually used a Volta station before.

    The one I used was located at a whole foods within walking distance of a kid-sports event we were attending in the Chicago Suburbs.

    The Volta station clearly put there to act mostly as a billboard.

    The problem was that it was a 20-amp L2 charger, and the Whole Foods people put a 2-hour parking limit sign there. That means that I was limited to about +40 miles in any given session.

    A 20MPH charger is pretty weak charger for a public charger. (A 20MPH charger it's just fine for a home charger where I park for 12+ hours per day, unless I drive more than 240 miles per day).

    So, I had to fall back on Plan B and use one of 5 Tesla Superchargers I passed on my way home for 7 minutes. The Tesla GPS took care of everything.

    The Volta charger I've used was low utility. It was about as valuable as a coupon to get you get while you shop for groceries at Whole Foods -- which has most of the same stuff as Meijer, but at twice the price.

    I greatly appreciate that they essentially gave me a free "gallon of gas". But it's cheaper to charge at home and shop at Meijer.

    I appreciate the freebie, but attaching a billboard to an EV charger is really just a way to get billboards into places where the residents would normally object to billboards. The actual utility to EV drivers is pretty minimal.

  • Zerofoo Zerofoo on Feb 09, 2023

    Somehow not liking long charge times compared to filling a tank with dinosaur juice is akin to being a luddite. It's an interesting perspective. I've been a technology worker for 25 years and never considered myself a luddite. I owned some of the earliest smartphones years before iDevices became available and owned smartphones ever since. Having worked in tech for that long, I have developed a knack for recognizing bad technologies when I see them. EVs aren't necessarily bad, but they are also not an across-the-board improvement on traditional liquid fuel ICE automobiles.

    EVs have their place, but somehow if you point out their shortcomings - you're a crotchety old person that watches network news and hates technology.

    New isn't always better.

  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)
  • FreedMike @Tim: "...about 40 percent of us Yanks don't live in a single-family home."Keep in mind that this only describes single family **detached** homes. But plenty of other house types offer a garage you can use to charge up in - attached single family homes (townhouses, primarily), or duplex/triplex/four-plexes. Plus, lots of condos have garages built in. Add those types of housing in and that 40% figure drops by a lot. Regardless, this points out what I've been thinking for a while now - EV ownership is great if you have a garage, and inconvenient (and more expensive) if you don't. The good news if you're looking for more EV sales is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have garages. If I had one, I'd be looking very closely at buying electric next time around.
  • Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
  • Cprescott Well, duh. You will pay more to charge a golf cart than an ICE of the same size if you charge externally. Plus when you factor in the lost time, you will pay through the nose more than an ICE on lost opportunity costs. Golf car ownership savings is pure myth.