Gas stations were once a regular part of a driver’s life, but this is starting to change. As electric cars become more mainstream, drivers will rely more on charging stations.
However, the switch to electric cars doesn't mean gas stations are doomed to be completely eliminated.
Boston Consulting Group found that up to 80% of gas stations could be unprofitable by 2035, as reported by
CNET. But this just means that gas stations will need to offer other services that are useful for consumers. Here are the obstacles that gas stations face and the options that the business has to stay relevant.
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Gas stations face challenges
gas stations and "C stores," or convenience stores that sell fuel, have been dealing with lower gas consumption all year. A combination of delivery services and people working from home has reduced the miles that people drive in their own cars. Hybrids were also reducing visits to gas stations even before fully electric models became available.
According to CNET, General Motors wants to be a pure electric brand by 2035, and Volvo plans to do the same by 2030. California and Washington also plan to
ban sales of new combustion engines. California wants to do this by 2035, and Washington aims to implement the ban by 2030.
How can gas stations evolve to meet consumer demand?
The decline in gas consumption leaves gas stations with fewer customers. In order to stay profitable, gas stations will have to offer different services.
Adding charging stations alongside fuel pumps is the most obvious option. However, this needs more planning in terms of infrastructure and station placement. There’s a big difference in how long it takes to charge an
electric car versus a gasoline fill-up.
Other options include letting you order items from the C stores digitally, and delivering your order at the pump. The expansion of convenient food services will make gas stations more useful for drivers. They could also provide things like Amazon locker and return locations or "dark kitchens" that only offer food delivery.
Gas stations can also start delivering gas to your house, though this route involves getting over some technical obstacles. There would be legal requirements for moving gasoline, and they would have to figure out a way to safely transport it.
Gas stations need to change to survive
MarketWatch, the number of gas stations in America has dropped sharply in the last two years. A few cities have even banned new gas stations within their boundaries.
One of the best options for gas stations to survive is to become a "service station," as mentioned by CNET. It seems easy to just turn gas stations into EV battery-swap stations, but this takes a lot more effort than you’d expect. Tesla and the startup Better Place have both stopped working on their plans for a
battery-swap model after facing challenges.
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