Shell and UConnect Team Up to Pioneer Infotainment Gas Payments


Shell makes deal with Chrysler that will give it 20% of the market for in-car gas payments.

Shell is now enabling customers in Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram cars to pay for gas through Chrysler's e-commerce offering named The UConnect Market. Customers can add payment information to UConnect, use the system to find a nearby Shell station, and then pay for fuel from the infotainment center in their cars.

Shell is incentivizing adoption by offering rewards to new members. The partnership helps cement Shell as a leader in the in-car payment space as fuel becomes a top use case for car payments.

Shell's partnerships give it substantial access to the in-car payments space. Shell is the largest gas network in the US, with 14,000 stations nationwide. This deal means that they have relationships with the so called "Big Three" where they have 20% of the American car industry. As the number of connected cars across the country increases, this reach will give Shell and its partners a large base.

That access to that many cars on the road could be key in helping the brand take a large chunk of the usage as in-car payments increase. America is decades behind European countries when it comes to railroads and about 85% of US adults commute by car, 83% of whom would engage in commerce during their commute. On the back of that interest, as well as rising connected car penetration, they expect in-car payments to grow at a 37% compound annual growth rate from 2019 through 2024 to hit $16.4 billion. The prevalence of Shell's offerings could make it the most accessible option for in-car fuel payments, in turn helping it carve out a substantial share of the space, even in the face of opposition from Honda.

As two different approaches to fuel payments come to light, it'll be worth watching which one garners more adoption. Shell's approach is to leverage infotainment centers within connected cars to enable fuel and other payments from inside the car. But that approach could come into contention with one that leverages voice technology instead: Amazon, ExxonMobile, and Fiserv are partnering to enable Alexa-based voice payments within Alexa-enabled vehicles. However, logically we can assume that the use of voice is not far off for Shell.

Both offerings have their pros and cons: Infotainment centers might be more prevalent than Alexa Auto, but voice commands could be slightly more convenient than a touchscreen option — and neither add massive convenience since fuel requires customers to exit their car by default anyway. But if one posts much better results than the other, it could set the tone for other car-based payment types, like parking or quick-service dining, moving forward. 

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Economics, Finance and Investing