Volta Inc. announced the execution of a definitive merger agreement under which Shell USA Inc., a subsidiary of Shell plc, will acquire Volta in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $169 million. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2023.
This means that soon Shell will own the Volta’s dual charging and media network and potentially combine it with its other EV charging related businesses.
According to Volta, the network already consist over 3,000 individual charging stalls (mostly AC Level 2 – 6-10 kW, with some addition of DC fast chargers) at roughly 1,000 sites in the United States. The special thing about the Volta charging stations are screens to display advertisements for revenues. In most cases, charging of electric vehicles at Volta stations is free (AC stalls).
Recently, the network surpassed 5,700 screens and one billion monthly media impressions. Usually there are two screens at each stall (with some exceptions, like wall-mounted stalls or specific stalls without any screen).
Having screens to generate profits from ads is an interesting approach for a charging network, which probably tempted Shell. Another thing is that Volta stations are also very nice looking.
Vince Cubbage, Interim Chief Executive Officer, said:
“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. 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.”
However, it’s not yet clear whether ads as a main source of revenues will be good enough to support the business in the long-term. Shell might combine it with its standard charging stations – several paid DC fast chargers plus one or two AC charging stalls, displaying ads.
The main value of the acquisition might be then the already established media system that will be scaled up around the world. Shell intends to expand its global charging network to 500,000 charging points (AC and DC) by 2025 and 2.5 million by 2030.