The adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is poised to revolutionize the traditional concept of gas stations, necessitating a shift towards “mobility hubs” that offer a broader array of power sources and convenient services.
As the world moves toward widespread EV adoption, a key challenge lies ahead: deploying charging infrastructure rapidly and effectively.
This transformation involves the reconfiguration of physical layouts, encompassing tanks, batteries, and pumps, alongside the development of innovative strategies to ensure seamless service to diverse clientele.
Data has the power to facilitate these processes: increased predictability and optimized planning and infrastructure management go a long way in easing investments and accelerating deployment.
Converting Gas Stations into Mobility Hubs
Creative solutions are emerging to address the extended time spent at mobility hubs, including the incorporation of package pickup points, pharmacies, laundry services, gyms, grocery pickup locations, and co-working spaces.
The evolving consumer preference for retail shopping and associated services has reduced the significance of fuel to just 50% of the forecourt’s offerings, with the forecourt of tomorrow catering to broader mobility and energy trends.
Technology is a major factor in creating additional convenience. Implementing mobile apps or online platforms that allow customers to check charging availability, reserve charging slots and pay for services in advance can modernize the charging process and improve convenience.
The Biden administration has set a goal of establishing 500,000 EV chargers nationally, where EVs constitute at least 50% of new car sales, by 2030. By current administration estimates, there are more than three million EVs and over 130,000 public chargers nationwide.
Major European oil companies are leading the global drive towards EV charging infrastructure, with the addition of EV chargers serving both defensive and offensive strategies.
Large oil corporations are backing franchise filling stations, such as BP and Shell. In the United States, numerous federal, state, and utility-based incentives are available for commercial enterprises to acquire and install fast chargers. Shell, for instance, has introduced EV-charging-only mobility hubs in China, the Netherlands, and other locations, aiming to own over 70,000 public EV charge points globally by 2025 and 200,000 by 2030. BP is also recognizing the need for mixed-use hybrid refueling and EV charging stations alongside their existing convenience offerings.
Franchise car dealers are increasingly embracing EV infrastructure, supported by automakers like GM and Ford. The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates that franchise owners will invest approximately $5.5 billion in EV infrastructure across various OEM brands.
Barriers and Opportunities
There are clear barriers to entry, with location being a critical factor. According to the US Department of Energy, a majority of EV charging takes place at home, reducing the appeal of adding EV charging facilities to in-town gas stations. In addition, central stations typically lack amenities to offer customers while charging their vehicles.
Real estate constraints can also be prohibitive, especially when comparing traditional gas stations to those located along major highways, which are better suited for electric charging hubs due to their numerous amenities.
So what do you need to know?
While we still have a journey ahead of us before there is a major flip between gas vehicles and EVs, gas stations are making substantial overhauls to prepare for the future. Understanding and implementing these changes on active sites can be complex and costly, with upfront expenses being significant. Factors like location, cost, power requirements, and conversion time all weigh into a gas station’s decision to adapt its infrastructure for EV charging.
Gas stations are investing in Level 3 chargers, which offer faster charging times, typically between 20 to 30 minutes, in contrast to slower charging options available at locations like office complexes, hospitals, and hotels, where people tend to stay for extended periods. While slower charging stations are often free to motorists, fast charging stations are typically not free to users, given ongoing operational costs such as electricity and utility fees.
Adding EV charging capabilities is a substantial decision that requires careful consideration.
The costs associated with hardware and software for fast charging stations range from $50,000 for a single charger to $500,000 for multiple fast chargers and dispensers. Infrastructure expenses, including groundwork, power supply, permits, and contractor fees, are roughly double the cost of the hardware.
To make charging stations financially viable, it is advisable to incur all infrastructure changes upfront, even if a gas station initially intends to offer only a few chargers. Various federal, state, and utility-based incentives are available to support commercial businesses in purchasing and installing fast chargers, including the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration NEVI Formula Program, which offers substantial funding for strategic EV charging station deployment.
By evolving into comprehensive mobility hubs, gas station owners can cater to their customers’ changing needs and preferences while offering a convenient and enjoyable charging experience. Through forward-thinking change, gas stations can solidify their position as essential players in the transition to a more sustainable future.
Reach out for more information about this important transition.