A technologically nimble international oil giant? It seems tough to imagine, but Royal Dutch Shell is making some real startup moves with its pursuit of everything from on-demand fueling to electric vehicle (EV) charging to in-vehicle payment. And the innovation is playing out at Shell’s 44,000 locations worldwide, guided by the tireless Istvan Kapitany.
From his standpoint, these efforts are critical to Shell’s long-term success, at a time when analysts are forecasting a transformation of the transportation infrastructure in the next 50 years. “We see the energy transition and the future of mobility is accelerating more than many people would have thought,” says Kapitany, executive vice president of retail. “Lucky for us, we started to do programs which helped us to learn.”
These include the Shell TapUp mobile fueling service, which piloted in The Netherlands in 2017 and debuted in the U.S. in 2018. In Europe, Shell has EV charging at 200 sites. And Shell is acting as a fuel aggregator via its European fleet solutions, offering business customers the ability to charge or fuel up at Shell stations, pay for it with their Shell card, and get a monthly invoice listing diesel, gasoline and electricity purchases.
Shell envisions a future of mobility dominated by autonomous, shared, electrified transportation. It may seem a tough target for a company founded on conventional fuels, but Kapitany sees only opportunity. If Shell hits its goal of expanding to 55,000 sites worldwide by 2025, it will be well-positioned to serve this new customer base—whether they visit its stores or stay at home.
“We’re going to be essentially 50 minutes away from 80% of the population in the countries we are, so we can serve them with … convenience-retail offers,” says Kapitany. In Europe, Shell is already delivering foodservice items from its c-stores to customers in partnership with third-party providers.
“We believe this change will give us tremendous opportunities,” says Kapitany. “Clearly, it has quite a number of threats. ... We take certain steps to be ready for this change.”
50 minutes—Average distance the nearest Shell site will be from 80% of the population by 2025