As an American who lived in the Netherlands for years, I can safely say that the Dutch are a funny bunch of odd ducks. (In fact, even the actual ducks—which are everywhere in Amsterdam, due to the canal systems—are odd ducks.) For one thing, they like mayonnaise on their French fries. For another, they transport children, washing machines, and government officials on bikes. And for another, you can’t really phase them.
Even in the face of a lawsuit.
That’s right. The Dutch are so chill they’re almost comatose… which is a good thing for Shell Oil Company. Recently, the NL Times posted an article explaining that Shell is being taken to court by Fastned for installing electric car chargers at their gas stations. The problem? Fastned claims that they only have a permit to sell gas (well, they said “petrol,” but you get it) and NOT electricity.
What does Fastned care? Well, considering the Fastned company owns and operates 63 electric car charging stations in the Netherlands (that’s a LOT considering the whole country could probably fit in Texas ten times), it makes sense that Fastned is upset about the “preferential treatment” Shell is receiving.
The NL Times article reports that Fastned CEO Michiel Langezaal said, “It starts with Shell simply selling electricity on the permit they have to sell fuel. We find that strange. We as electricity provider can’t just sell gasoline. We’re going to court.”
Fastned is also complaining that:
- The Dutch government won’t give Fastned permits to open convenience stores at their charging stations
- The Dutch government won’t change road signs to reflect the number of kilometers (This is Europe, remember) to the next electric charging station.
Their complaints always end in “…but gas stations get to. It’s not fair!” I understand their concern.
You know who doesn’t? The Dutch government. To be completely fair to them, they reportedly say they will add charging stations logos to road signs the next time they need replacing, saying it would be too expensive to change all the signs now. (I’ll buy that.)
The Dutch government also went to court with Fastned over the convenience store issue and it was settled that stores can open… in 2024. The Dutch gov points to the fact that they have legal contracts that restrict to whom they can auction off shop locations along Dutch highways. (I sort of understand this, too.)
What does Shell say about all this? It seems like their response is one big, smirking shoulder shrug. The company is reported as saying, “An additional appointment was granted on Rijkswaterstaat’s existing permit. And that additional appointment confirms that Shell can install fast charging points.” Seemingly calm as the Queen of England herself, Marjan van Loon, CEO of Shell Netherlands, says, in typical Dutch English: “We are of course following the market and electric driving is on the increase. And we want to be there for all motorists.”
Can’t argue with that, right? Fastned disagrees. We’ll see how this all pans out in the end, but until then, what do you think? Does the Dutch oil tycoon have a reason to legally hang its head and apologize for shady business practices? Is Fastned the jealous red-headed stepmother who’s not taking the competition gracefully? Or is the Dutch government responsible for not playing fair? You decide!