Shell taken to court over electric car chargers

Shell Coolcaesar/Wikimedia Commons.

With the opening of its first fast charging station for electric cars, Dutch oil giant Shell is now also a player in the electric vehicle market. Fastned, a company that already opened 63 fast charging stations in the Netherlands, believes that shell is being favored and is therefore taking the company to court, NOS reports.

"It starts with Shell simply selling electricity on the permit they have to sell fuel", Fastned CEO Michiel Langezaal said to the broadcaster. "We find that strange. We as electricity provider can't just sell gasoline. We're going to court."

For Fastned, this is just another step in its battle against the Dutch government. For example, the company can't get permission to open shops at its charging stations. "If you charge your car, you might want to get a cup of coffee or go to the toilet", Langezaal said to NOS. "We do not want our customers to be left out in the cold, but we can't get permission from Rijkswaterstaat. They say road safety is at risk. So why can gas stations then have shops?"

Another issue is that the Rijkswaterstaat refuses to place signs along highways, showing how far away the next charging station is, Langezaal said. "They do that for petrol stations, then you as motorist know that there is a gas station a kilometer away for example", he said. "Why then can charging stations for electric cars not be mentioned?"

Earlier this year the court ruled in Fastned's favor in proceedings the company filed against Rijkswaterstaat for stores at the charging stations. Rijkswaterstaat appealed, saying that no new stores can open along the highways until 2024. Rijkswaterstaat is bound by agreements with the oil companies about auctioning shop locations along the highways, and these agreements can't be ignored.

When it comes to signs, it's only a matter of time, according to Rijkswaterstaat. As soon as the current signs need to be replaced, the new signs will also have an icon for alternative fuels. Replacing and modifying everything now, is too expensive, according to the company. 

The lack of cooperation from the government has until now been annoying for Fastned, but now that Shell is also on the market, the situation seems likely to deteriorate, the company worries.

At Shell, no one seems to be too worried about a lawsuit, according to NOS. "An additional appointment was granted on Rijkswaterstaat's existing permit", the company said, according to the broadcaster. "And that additional appointment confirms that Shell can install fast charging points."

"We are of course following the market and electric driving is on the increase", Marjan van Loon, CEO of Shell Netherlands, said to NOS. "And we want to be there for all motorists." In the coming period, Shell plans to install fast charging points at 25 of its gas stations. 

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