Electric vehicles or EVs are the future of land transportation. And they’re becoming popular each year. In a survey by Consumer Reports, 71% of U.S. drivers are interested in EVs. And more than 70% are aware of the benefits of EVs on the environment, which explains their interest.
Electric cars are becoming a more favorable choice because they are more eco-friendly than gasoline-powered vehicles. EVs don’t pollute the air since they don’t emit smoke. Electric motors are also more responsive than their traditional counterparts. So they’re easier to maneuver.
But the transition to electric cars raises a question about gas stations. What will happen to them if people no longer need to pump gas for their vehicles to run?
There are two possible answers to this. Gas stations can either make the necessary changes to accommodate EV users or, worse, close down. The latter is already starting to happen in Norway. Just last year, more than 70% of all cars sold were EVs. With more people using EVs, the demand for gas and diesel has significantly decreased. And this forced many gas stations to close down.
In the U.S., EVs have not yet fully taken over the market. There’s still time for gas station owners to make changes and not meet the same fate as some gas stations in Norway. Let’s take a look at the possible changes to make for gas stations to survive:
Install Charging Stations
The first option for gas stations is to “get with the times” and install charging stations. For instance, they can convert some of their gas pumps to charging stations.
Though consumers want to own EVs, it will take some time for them to outnumber fuel-powered vehicles. This period of transition will buy gas stations some time to acquire and install charging stations. This is actually already happening. For example, Shell announced that they would install charging stations in some of their gas stations in Britain and the Netherlands back in 2017. Meanwhile, in 2019, a local gas station in Maryland completely ditched oil and now offers only charging stations for EVs.
This shift from oil to electric charging stations isn’t easy, though. Many gas stations are owned by independent business owners. And they may not have the resources to make the change. Still, it’s worth considering since it can cater to both traditional car and electric car owners.
Convert into Convenience Stores
In the U.S., approximately 122,000 convenience stores sell fuel. This is because gas stations don’t really make a lot of money on just fuel sales. Even though oil transport trucks come every week to refill their underground tanks, indicating fast sales, gas stations still make most of their money from convenience store purchases.
If these convenience store owners who sell fuel can’t install charging stations, they can continue running their stores. Although, this won’t be easy. For one, travelers go to gasoline stations with convenience stores as a pit stop. They get some snacks while their cars are refueled. If gas stations are removed, it will be hard to attract customers. Convenience store owners will have to reassess their business model.
Provide More Amenities to Consumers
One study found that in the first quarter of 2019, people spent more than five minutes in a convenience store in a gas station. This is longer than the average two to three minutes duration of refilling a car, but only by a little. So after making a purchase, travelers can immediately go back to their vehicles and drive away.
Meanwhile, charging an EV takes longer. It may take at least an hour to make a significant increase in battery capacity. Thus, gas stations will need to offer more amenities to attract customers and stay long enough for their EVs to charge.
Gas station owners can offer full-course meals instead of just snacks in convenience stores. Opening a cafe is also an option. Travelers can have a cup of coffee and do some reading while they wait for their EVs to recharge. Offering high-speed Wi-Fi connections may also encourage them to stay longer.
Society’s willingness to shift to electric cars is a good thing. It indicates that more people want to reduce carbon emissions and live a more sustainable life. It aims to improve what threatens to destroy the environment. But it’s also important to consider that this shift will significantly affect local businesses. Both corporations and independent owners of gas stations will need to remodel their businesses so that they can keep up with the changes and stay afloat amid the changing times.