Shell strikes up strategic partnership with Chinese firm for battery facilities

29 November 2021

Chinese battery-electric vehicle (BEV) brand Nio has partnered with Shell. The two companies are planning to construct and operate battery-charging and swapping facilities in Asia and Europe. Under the deal, 100 battery-swapping stations will be installed in China by 2025, while pilot stations in Europe will start appearing from 2022.

As one of a number of Asian BEV makers darting into the European automotive market, Nio is keen to expand its services in the region. Increasing brand awareness is key and the partnership with Shell will allow the company to achieve higher visibility. In the future, Nio users will also be able to access Shell’s charging network in Europe.

Shift to battery services

Both companies are eager to explore other collaborations in the areas of battery asset management, fleet management, membership systems, home-charging services, advanced battery-charging and swapping-technology.

While Shell is known as an oil and gas company, it has increasingly shifted its focus to infrastructure as it aims to become a leading charging-service provider. Earlier this year, it acquired infrastructure developer Ubitricity and announced plans to install 50,000 on-street charging points across the UK by the end of 2025. Oil giant BP has similar ambitions, recently taking a 33.3% stake in startup Digital Charging Solutions. The deal will see BP provide customers access to 9,000 charging points across Europe, including rapid and ultra-fast chargers.

Electrification is advancing, with both the automotive and energy industries having to keep up with the rapid transition to electromobility. Collaborations, such as the one between Nio and Shell, will likely be seen more often in the future.

‘The cooperation demonstrates Shell’s determination to accelerate the energy transition and commitment to contribute to sustainable development globally,’ said William Li, founder, chairman and CEO of Nio. ‘We believe that the cooperation between Nio and Shell will bring better services and experience to electric-vehicle users worldwide.’

European expansion

The companies want to improve the charging experience of BEV drivers, with Shell offering its Recharge high-speed charging at Nio locations. Meanwhile, battery-swapping will be available at Shell locations, while also offering Nio customers home and business-charging solutions.

Battery swapping allows drivers to quickly exchange a depleted battery at a designated battery-swapping station. Nio said it would install 700 battery-swap stations this year. By the end of 2025, it aims to operate more than 4,000 stations worldwide – 1,000 of which will be located outside of China.

Nio is building its presence in Norway, where it wants to open battery-swapping stations as part of its European expansion. Norway is a crucial market for the Chinese manufacturer, marking its first steps overseas. In the coming year, Nio plans to enter more markets in Europe. The partnership with Shell will allow it to accelerate its electric-vehicle strategy, being a win-win situation for both parties involved.

‘Decarbonisation is a global challenge that requires broad-reaching, multi-faceted global solutions,’ said István Kapitány, global executive vice president of Shell Mobility. ‘This is the most exciting thing about our new partnership with Nio – the breadth of the collaboration and the value we can offer our EV customers together, both in Europe and in China.’