Creating an efficient and customer-friendly charging network will be key elements to their success
Mobility is changing against the clock and this will affect all agents involved, also petrol stations. According to an Accenture’s report that the most important trends regarding petrol stations in the next years will be the rise of EV usage (57%) and the change in consumer behaviour and demands (41%).
Petrol stations’ role may be not so obvious because, by now, 70-80% of the EV drivers charge their vehicles at home and at work, but as electric vehicles’ sales keep rising this situation will become untenable and these figures will change. Will companies have enough charging points when most of their employees drive EVs? Will condominiums have enough space to install EV chargers when most of their tenants need to charge their EVs at home?
This is, in fact, one of the reasons why Europe is leading the way when it comes to charging at gas stations. Unlike the United States, where drivers live in suburban areas that make charging at home easier, in Europe many drivers live in apartments without private parking and park their vehicles on the street. This happen also in China and, in general, in urban areas worldwide.
A viable solution for this situation may be the installation of quick chargers in public spaces and here is where petrol stations will play an important role. According to some studies, drivers will start switching to electric vehicles when they know there’s a charger at least every 75 miles of driving. Petrol stations are already located based on driving patterns, therefore this infrastructure can be a key element to create an efficient EV charging network.
To be completely efficient this charging network should also be customer-friendly. Now EV charger manufacturers and distributors are renting space in petrol stations to install their charging stations. To make this a successful scenario, technologies may integrate to allow the driver to pull over, charge and be able to pay as they do with fossil fuels.
To achieve this is very important that EV charging and petrol station managing companies work together to offer an integrated solution. Circontrol did this with Alvic, a leading company in service stations automation and control and fleet management, creating a solution that integrates chargers’ and service stations’ management simplifying charging and paying process.
All theses changes won’t arrive overnight, in fact, fossil fuels will keep representing 90% of product inventory for decades to come. This doesn’t mean that petrol stations should not invest in installing EV chargers, but they should install them in a strategic manner prioritizing areas where EVs are more popular or areas where there are government incentives.
Transition from petrol stations to charging facilities will be slow and there are still lots of doubts about how will it be exactly, but what is clear is that this transition is inevitable. EV presence will be more common every day and this is going to change mobility infrastructure.