A recent post over at The Verge leaves us with some big questions about Shell’s latest product offerings. Normally, Shell offers oil. Lots of oil. But, now it is offering some clean energy products, including an electric scooter and battery storage products. The question they were left with (and we’re also left with) is why Shell is doing this. We don’t have solid answers, but we can make some educated guesses.
Shell’s New Micromobility Products
Shell has partnered with scooter company Lotus (not the car company) to sell some new scooters and e-bikes under the Shell Ride brand.
Right now, it’s selling the Shell Ride SR-5S scooter. It looks a lot like a Xioami scooter, or the same scooter that the first generation Bird scooters were based on. Like other similar scooters, it has speeds of 15-20 MPH, 18-20 miles of range, and a display to show you how far you have left along with your speed.
But, Shell isn’t going to stick with just one scooter. It is also going to offer an SR-4S scooter, which is less powerful and with less range, and a larger, more powerful SR-6S with more power and a swappable battery pack.
Shell Ride is also going to offer three electric bikes, the SR-3B, SR-4B, and SR-5B (the B seems to stand for Bike). From what I can tell, these bikes appear to be built with some common Chinese bike parts that I’ve seen on a variety of advertisements on social media (especially Facebook). So, don’t expect anything new and amazing from Shell Ride. They probably won’t be junk, but they won’t be unique designs.
All of these small EVs will be able to work with the Shell Ride smartphone app, available on app stores. This puts the Shell Ride bikes and scooters a little ahead of the average ones, but are capabilities Xiaomi scooters already had. Seeing the extra effort to make a Shell Ride app shows that they’re committed, though.
To see what else Shell is offering, I’d recommend checking out the story at The Verge. The writer put in a lot of time collecting links when I’m going to skip straight to the speculation, so I’ll point you there.
What I Think Shell Is Doing Here
Nothing I’ve seen that’s Shell branded among these micromobility and storage products is something Shell put a plan together for and produced. It’s all stuff made by other manufacturers which licensed the Shell name to use for their products.
The obvious answer is that Shell (like all businesses) wants money. If someone wants to pay to use the Shell name and isn’t going to destroy the name with crappy products, it makes sense. But, I think this goes beyond just wanting to cash in on name recognition.
Obviously, Shell has an image problem. It is a fossil fuel company, and being a fossil fuel company during a time that more and more people believe in climate change is not great for one’s reputation. It doesn’t want to spend the resources it takes to actually make new products that innovate in the industry, but there are no shortages of companies (especially in China) which do build micromobility and clean energy products.
So, this is an easy way to diversify the company in the public eye and seem serious about climate change while not actually having to put much effort or money into the arrangement. I could be wrong with my cynical take here, but if I’m wrong, I’m probably not far off.
Images from Shell Ride.
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