By Karolin Schaps
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) has agreed to buy Dutch-based NewMotion, the owner of one of Europe's largest electric vehicle charging networks, marking the company's first deal in electric mobility as demand for cleaner vehicles is expected to soar.
Shell said NewMotion, which manages over 30,000 charging points for electric vehicles in Western Europe and offers access to thousands more, will operate in parallel to Shell's programme of rolling out fast charging points at its forecourts.
"They're complementary offers. One is fast charging on the go on the forecourt and the other is a slightly slower rate of charge at the workplace or at home. At this stage there are no plans to integrate the two," Shell's vice-president for new fuels, Matthew Tipper, told journalists.
Shell is installing electric vehicle charging points at retail stations in Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and the Philippines.
Demand for electric vehicles is expected to rise significantly in coming decades and Morgan Stanley estimates that 1-3 million public charging points could be needed in Western Europe by 2030. Currently, there are fewer than 100,000.
Shell expects around a quarter of the world's car fleet to be electric by 2040.
Oil companies are growing increasingly aware of the potential threat to parts of their downstream business from the electrification of transport.
Rival BP (BP.L) said in August it was in talks with electric vehicle makers about partnering to offer charging stations at its retail sites.
NewMotion, founded in 2009, has more than 100,000 registered charge card users in Europe and offers access to its own charging points as well as another 50,000 partner locations.
In September, NewMotion signed a deal with Total (TOTF.PA) to allow the French oil company's customers access to its electric vehicle charging network.
Shell and NewMotion declined to comment on the value of Thursday's takeover.
NewMotion had a net turnover of 12.9 million euros (11.57 million pounds) and made a net loss of 3.9 million euros in 2016, according to its financial statement filed with the Dutch chamber of commerce.
(Additional reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely)