General Motors has turned to petro-giant Shell to help buyers of BEVs like the Chevrolet Bolt charge up using renewable energy.
The program will allow owners to charge up overnight — when demand on the grid is normally low — at no cost using renewable energy. The new partners also plan to provide energy at reduced rates to GM suppliers. Initially, the program will be limited to Texas, but the plan is to expand to other markets “in the future,” they said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
“Addressing climate change requires incredible scale,” said Kristen Siemen, GM’s chief sustainability officer. “At GM, we’re committed to helping bring everybody in on a more sustainable future.”
Big plans, big challenges
The largest of the Detroit automakers last week announced plans to invest $35 billion in its battery-car and autonomous-vehicle programs, an increase of 75% over GM’s pre-pandemic target. The goal, according to CEO Mary Barra, is to have at least 30 BEVs in production by mid-decade, with GM going entirely electric by 2035.
The company aims to address some of the key obstacles to widespread EV adoption with upcoming products like the GMC Hummer and the Cadillac Lyriq, both riding on all-new, skateboard-style platforms and using the company’s next-generation Ultium batteries. Last week’s announcement laid out plans to set up four separate plants to produce lithium-ion cells, starting with one opening later this year in Lordstown, Ohio.
But one of the biggest obstacles is the lack of a widespread battery charging network — something President Joe Biden hopes to address with his proposed infrastructure bill.
GM wants to get a head start by making it easier for its BEV buyers to charge up at home and on the road. It’s already set up alliances with more than a half-dozen public charging companies, including Blink Charging, ChargePoint, EV Connect, EVgo, FLO and SemaConnect, as well as Greenlots. The latter company was acquired by Shell in 2019.
Shell wants to shift direction
While its primary revenue stream comes from petroleum, the Dutch giant is pushing into renewable alternatives and claims a target of becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.
The latest deal will pair GM with Shell’s wholly owned subsidiary, MP2 Energy.
“Shell is working across many sectors to help address greenhouse gas emissions and to serve as a partner for change,” said Glenn Wright, vice president of Shell’s Renewables and Energy Solution.
Many of the nation’s utilities already provide discounted energy overnight, when demand on the power grid is generally light. The GM/Shell program goes a step further. Starting next month, owners of GM battery-electric cars will be able to select home energy plans, including those with 100% fixed rates, that provide free EV charging at night.
Broader rollout in the works
The program launches in Texas which, despite its history as the center of America’s petroleum industry, has a high level of renewable energy sources — and one of the higher levels of U.S. EV ownership.
The program could help offset some of the bad press battery-powered cars got earlier this year when the Texas energy grid went down following an unusually serious ice storm. Where power was available, some EV owners reported being hit with bills running thousands of dollars because of the state’s demanding pricing system.
Looking forward, the two companies said in a statement, they “expect to expand the residential and EV offerings across U.S. markets in the future.”