Why fuel retailers should add EV chargers to their gas stations

What are the gains for retailers? Would it help retailers maintain traffic, volume, meet emission goals and even reduce demand for standard fuel.  
Can consumers be assured that their vehicles will be charged in a convenient and comfortable manner?

With ever-increasing concern for environmentally friendly and sustainable behavior, fuel stations may soon start taking on a whole new meaning. Will retailers create a new avenue for forecourts with convenient and comfortable EV charging stations across the globe or are strategies like these too far ahead of their time?

As gas prices climb, and many believe it will continue to increase in the coming years, more consumers are looking for alternative ways to get their hands on fuel. As electric vehicle adoption increases at a rapid pace, fuel retailers have no choice but to consider whether they should start adding EV chargers to these stations.

90% of drivers who made the switch to electric vehicles (EVs) are finding no desire to turn back to their less environmentally friendly vehicles. The evidence points towards an electrified future where the need of charging stations to power this shift to electric mobility is a fact.

Will this be a new avenue for forecourts and retailers to reduce emission goals? Can consumers be assured that their vehicles will be charged in a convenient and comfortable manner?

Benefits of adding EV charge points to gas stations

There are many advantages to adding EV charging stations to gas stations. From providing a new convenience to consumers, to helping retailers meet emission goals and even reduce demand for standard fuel.  Demand for such a service is likely to explode as more businesses and residential properties add charging points, making fueling stations less relevant.

Gas stations and retailers are in a unique position to help accelerate EV adoption by making charging as easy and pleasant as possible. In the process, the retailers help themselves with renewed interest in visiting the fuel retails even with EVs. Of course, it will be more challenging to serve customers at slow charging speeds, but with the developments taking place in the industry many electric vehicles are increasing their ranges and sooner than later this is not going to be an obstacle anymore.

EV chargers are divided into two key types: AC chargers and DC fast chargers. These two types are identified based on charging speeds needed for each type of EV. Some models will take several hours to charge if plugged into a charger, others need a few minutes only when plugged into a DC charger. Typically using rapid chargers ranging at 175kW, it takes 10 minutes for an EV to be charged from 0-80%. A charging hub is a public station solely designed for rapid electric charging.

Since 2020, over 5000 petrol stations have closed in the UK, signaling the onset of a paradigm shift. With Shell’s recent conversion of its Fulham fueling station to the first-of-its-kind electric charging hub, forecourts and retailers have some serious questions to address if they want to continue to remain alive and competitive.

Charging hubs can be built on existing petrol stations premises like Shells or as standalone stations. In some cases, there are even more services than just EV chargers - these stations could offer solar panels while also adding functionality like car washes and grocery stores such that all shopping needs can be accomplished at one station. This model, which is not far from some of the actual petrol stations’ provisions, is helping make the switch.  

How do EV charging stations’ future plans look like?

The benefits of retrofitting petrol stations to charging hubs is straightforward. By using petrol stations’ existing infrastructure, forecourts and retailers can avoid investments in electricity upgrades and be cost efficient. In fact, they can use EV charging as an additional revenue stream to drive footfall into their retail shops on top of charging services.

What's more, charging hubs can help forecourts mitigate unexpected price fluctuations and spikes associated with renewable energy, by balancing demand and supply via the need for more electricity and the strain on power grids. An anticipated energy congestion will cause the cost of electricity delivered to potentially increase by 20% in 2050 when building out renewable power assets and grid infrastructure. Thus, smart energy solutions pivoting towards charging hubs allows for cost-saving practices by using existing locations whilst also serving customers growing needs

Converting gas stations to EV charging hubs is no easy feat, especially without the right guidance, infrastructure and future-proof outlook. Reliability and interoperability are two key “need-to-haves" which make the switch further daunting.  

Let’s consider a step-wise approach, the Heliox way. First, are the infrastructure considerations. In comparison to a relatively standardised gas station, an EV charging station/hub involves considerations around power generation, type of charging points to be used (today, and potentially in the future), and the charge cycles. It's important to remember that every charger will increase electricity demand while promoting cleaner transport.

Second, to incorporate potential growth in size and scale of supply as a response to increased demand, provisioning for future growth and technological upgradations are also key considerations. The size of the charger is bound to shrink, but if your own growth exceeds the rate of shrinkage, capacity within the existing premises is a key consideration.  

And finally, whilst charging times can range from 10 minutes to 45 for a basic EV, what extra accessorizing could be carried out to add to a station’s business case?

A drive down some key roads of global cities, and the shift to EV is palpable. Developing the charging experience to be as similar or better than the current fueling experience will be key to helping consumers make the switch. And in this process, if traditional fuel stations can identify infrastructure and business design, this would be a win-win for fuel retailers and EV drivers in the quest for sustainable transportation and green alternatives.  

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Images Credits: Heliox

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