With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), the buzz around fuel retail has lately centered around installing electric charging stations. But with increasing choices like biofuels, hydrogen battery propulsion and more efficient fossil fuels, it’s going to be a while before electric is the standard.
While more carmakers are introducing electric versions of more of their standard models, what they aren’t saying is what portion of each model production will be electric. It won’t be many. It’s going to take some time for the EV market to grow enough to have a significant impact for c-stores and their fuel sales operations.
“Even if we converted every single vehicle sold today and every vehicle after that with the electric, it’s going to take more than nine years to convert half of the fleet,” said John Eichberger, president of The Fuels Institute.
According to Market Research study “Are EVs Equipped Enough to Overthrow the Dominance of Vehicles Based in ICE?” Toyota, General Motors and Volvo are aiming to sell one million EVs by 2025. Others have set ambitious goals, too.
Make no mistake, the number of EVs will increase year after year. The key players in the auto industry are setting targets for EV production, according to ambitious electric targets, as well.
“And so the industry has to really start thinking about how to position itself to become less reliant on fuel and more of a destination for drivers who don’t need energy as often,” Eichberger said.
That means fuel retailers need to do some contingency planning now to be ready to adjust down the road.
“We’ve made a pivot to being a food-first company,” said Jeff Bush, president of Parker’s, which operates 64 stores in Georgia and South Carolina, “and now what we’re doing is expanding that offer as the energy landscape changes, as well.”
Pay attention to what your customers are driving and what your neighbor stations are offering.
“So maybe today that’s sandwiches and fresh fried chicken and chicken tenders and combustible fuels,” Bush added, “and maybe in the future that’s coffee and Wi-Fi and a gym and electric vehicles.”
While EVs seem to be the wave of the future, keeping the right mix of high-octane, more efficient fuels and even biofuels will be key to maximizing fuel sales.