With green initiatives growing in importance, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are rapidly expanding at c-stores. The higher costs of fuel are also causing consumers to ask the question: Should I switch to an electric vehicle?
According to the Department of Energy, electric vehicles are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, provide a smooth operation and offer stronger acceleration. However, they also have a shorter driving range than conventional vehicles and a longer recharge time.
As consumers weigh these factors, more electric vehicles are on the road, creating a need for easy-to-find charging stations. This presents an opportunity for convenience stores.
With this in mind, you might look to see if your area is experiencing an uptick in the use of electric vehicles. If so, adding EV charging stations to your stores could be an asset, drawing these consumers to you specifically for the charging benefit.
C-stores such as Stewart’s Shops, Sheetz, Pilot Co. and bp are all already planning to integrate EV charging into their forecourts.
7-Eleven is also increasing alternative fuel access for its customers. The chain’s goal is to build 500 DC Fast Charging ports by the end of 2022 at 250 U.S. and Canada stores.
Alimentation Couche-Tard has over 500 charging points at its sites in Norway. Elsewhere in the world, it has 300 additional EV chargers at its locations.
Establishing the Infrastructure
One factor to consider regarding the addition of EV chargers is that the infrastructure is still in the early planning stages.
The Department of Energy and Department of Transportation joined efforts to create a nationwide EV charging network. Many consumers, however, will hesitate on switching to electric vehicles without the infrastructure already in place, since ease-of-access to a charging port is a priority.
As an alternative move, Michigan was awarded a contract to build a public wireless in-road charging system — the first in the U.S. — which will allow both mobile and stationary charging of electric vehicles. As of now, the project is expected to cover a one-mile stretch of road in Detroit and be operational by 2023.
If more roads such as this begin development, there may not be the same demand for individual charging stations. But such development is likely to be a long way off.
As retailers move forward with rolling out EV charging, many are offering full foodservice and seating areas to accommodate these customers while they wait for their vehicle to charge.
Many retailers see this as an ideal time to test and integrate EV technology, so they have it in place for when EV charging becomes more common in the years ahead.