Most people would associate Shell with oil. But the company is determined to explore clean energy solutions following its commitment to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.
This is why it has jumped with both feet into the micromobility sector, following the recent launch of a range of licensed Shell Ride branded e-scooters, and e-bikes are not far behind.
The architect of this intrepid move is Rahul Malhotra, Shell’s Head of Group Brand Strategy and Stewardship.
Previously Marketing Head for Healthcare at consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, Malhotra is on a mission with his colleagues to make Shell a force for good by embedding cleaner energy solutions into the actions of the company. It is a role he takes “very seriously” to the point where it has now become his life’s purpose.
Zag Daily: How does micromobility fit into Shell’s strategy?
RM: “I am very bullish about getting Shell involved in micromobility because I believe it will play a big role in the future of urban transport. If you look at the hard data, micromobility has just been one hockey stick in terms of growth and projections. We know there is high demand for micromobility but we also know that there is high demand for Shell to be in the micromobility space. Our consumer data shows our customers want our brand to move into micromobility even if we don’t have market share yet.”
Zag Daily: Why are your customers so keen for Shell to get involved?
RM: “When our customers are thinking about buying a completely new mode of transport, they need a lot of assurance from somebody they can trust. Some of our competitors in micromobility are completely unknown nouns to them.
“So you have a dad thinking about buying an e-scooter for his teenager who’s been insisting on it, right? That dad needs to know that it’s safe, well manufactured and from a brand they can trust, and that’s where Shell comes in. We have evidence that trust does transfer because the association of Shell and mobility is very strong.”
Zag Daily: Shell launched its first e-scooter in North America last year through Lotus as a licensee partner. Why did you choose this commercial model?
RM: “Licensing is a way to extend the reach and relevance of Shell where there is a natural and latent equity for our brand. It helps us get closer to consumers without necessarily getting into the game on our own. We welcome about 30 million people to our petrol pumps every day worldwide. Micromobility hasn’t reached that scale yet. So this is a legitimate business option where the licensees do everything using our trademark. At the moment, we have one licensee with Lotus, which manufactures and sells two models of e-scooter for personal use. Lotus follows our brand standards, quality specs and then sells them under the Shell Ride banner.”
Zag Daily: What does the Shell Ride brand stand for?
RM: “Shell Ride is the sub brand, the consumer name, just like you would have Jordans by Nike. It is the easy-to-understand name for any person researching micromobility to go and buy their product from.
“Shell Ride has been designed with a lot of love and care to ensure we strike the right balance between affordability and sticking to the shell standards of premium quality. We’ve considered all the details like whether the shoe will slip off the base, can we put a speed limiter in, can we design an app for the consumer interface, can we make it easy to fold for commuters carrying it on a train? So a lot of time and effort has been spent by my team to design the right e-scooter with the licensee, and we are excited about showcasing this to people.”
Zag Daily: Do you plan to expand your micromobility offering?
RM: “We are launching e-bikes in a couple of months. In fact, in the next couple of weeks, we’ve got samples that we’re approving and manufacturing will start. If you think about consumer habits and the changing urban mobility landscape, there’s a large number of people, whether it’s food delivery guys, or those using it for personal transport, who have discovered the power of the battery. Obviously the e-bikes will have a very different price range, consumer profile, size of unit, but it’s another segment that we would like to play a part in.”
Zag Daily: How would you sum up Shell’s stance on micromobility?
RM: “We’ve always been an iconic brand with superior products and customer centricity, but we need to keep offering our customers more of these low carbon products to get to net zero. With our consumer product licensees, we’re really trying to innovate with things like e-scooters and e-bikes so that we’re meeting consumer habits and needs as they evolve.
“Now, do I have a grand ambition of how much Shell could make from micromobility? Possibly, but I think it’s so early at the moment with the new regulations, new pilots and the mode changing every six months, I honestly don’t know where the market will go. But what I do know, is that if we don’t play in this micromobility market now with our licensees, we will be out of the game.”