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How modern gas stations attract more customers with EV chargers

August 24, 2021 | Wesley van Barlingen and Joseph D. Simpson

Last updated on July 19, 2022

Despite its straightforward name, a gas station usually offers a lot more than just a pump for drivers to fill up their tanks. 

Additional services, such as going through an extensive car wash, ordering a freshly baked sandwich or a hot cup of coffee, taking a (bathroom) break, or even doing some modest grocery shopping, are all part of the standard expectations of today’s gas station visitors.  

Gas station owners have always found new ways to adjust their services to the ever-changing needs of customers.

In turn, it is far from surprising to see more and more gas station owners adapting to the fast-paced developments of electric mobility by installing EV fast charging stations. 

With millions of electric vehicles on the world’s roads today (and counting), the need for a suitable fast-charging infrastructure has never been more prevalent.

However, while many gas station owners would agree that offering EV drivers the possibility to charge their electric car would probably be a great investment for the future, it also sounds expensive and complicated.

Is EV charging really something that fuel retailers should start looking into now? 

This article explains why gas stations with EV chargers are attracting more customers today.

A gas station at night showing different pumps

EV drivers want to charge at gas stations

At first, EV charging and gas stations might sound kind of contradictory; especially when one of the main benefits for EV drivers is that they can charge their vehicle wherever they park and no longer have to be dependent on gas stations. 

While the majority of EV drivers indeed charge their vehicle at home overnight, or at the office during business hours that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be able to charge it anywhere else.

In fact, our research shows that 29% of EV drivers in the EU already charge their vehicle at gas stations regularly, and a further 21% would love to be able to do so, should the option be available.

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This is especially significant as fully charging an electric car via a regular (AC) charging station—the ones usually found in homes and apartments—usually takes hours. Fast (DC) charging stations, on the other hand, are designed to reduce this time to mere minutes.

These fast commercial chargers are a perfect solution for when drivers are on the road looking for a quick fill-up, and gas stations are often perfectly positioned to facilitate that need.

Benefit from opportunistic charging behaviour

When driving a traditional vehicle, drivers will usually fill up their tank when it’s nearly on E, or maybe in preparation before a big trip. A driver won’t just stop at any gas station to fill it up if there is still plenty of fuel in the tank. 

However, because electricity is so accessible, charging behaviour differs from traditional fuelling. 

Rather, you can compare it to how people charge their phones. Generally speaking, they like to have their phones at 100 percent charge when they start their day, and as long as the percentage is around 70 percent, they’re fine. As soon as that number goes below that though, many of us might start to think about plugging in for a quick charge if the opportunity arises.

Just like their phones—or any other electric device for that matter—people like to have their car battery fully charged. Because range anxiety is only human, EV drivers prefer to charge their vehicle way before it is nearly empty. So when EV drivers spot an EV gas station while they’re on the road, chances are they will want to make use of that opportunity.

Get discovered by new customers looking to charge

Because public charging stations are registered online, it creates a unique opportunity for your business to be found by new customers while they’re on the road or when they map out their long-distance route. 

EV gas stations attract new customers by making their commercial fast-charging stations visible on various online platforms and charging apps, as well as Google or Apple Maps. 

Have a look at the results of the popular Google search term “​electric vehicle charging stations near me​” and see for yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice if that map also featured your business?

Two male passengers in a vehicle looking for a charging station on their phone

Stand out with EV charging stations

Even though fast charging stations do come in different shapes and sizes, they are generally quite big. What’s important to note here is that this is far from a bad thing. Of course, the bigger size of a fast-charging station is necessary to be able to house higher power outputs required to fast charge, but as an additional benefit the station really stands out (also when cars pass your business at higher speeds). 

EVBox charging stations installed at a fuel retail location

This will not only allow EV drivers to find their way to your business, but it will also attract non-EV drivers.  

Indeed, installing an EV charging station is more than offering a service, it’s a statement that your business is future-ready and conscious of the fight against climate change.

As the world is facing environmental issues, consumer consciousness is at an all-time high. While various sustainability efforts are top of mind at many governments and organizations, more and more customers seek companies that align with their personal views and values.

Nearly eight in ten consumers surveyed by ​IBM​ indicate sustainability is important to them. Our research shows that 62% of the general public (including non-EV drivers) say reducing CO2 emissions in transportation is important to them and 61% of potential EV drivers view those who drive electric as environmentally conscious.

So, having an electric vehicle charging station at your gas station is something many of your customers would like to see, even if they don’t (yet) own an electric car themselves.

If anything, it shows that your business is preparing for the future and supporting the cause to reduce harmful CO2 emissions by creating a sufficient and much-needed charging infrastructure.

Your existing customers already drive electric cars (or they might soon)

Do you know that 38% of the current EV owners in Europe also still own a vehicle that runs on traditional gas? Those that can afford it are trying out this new way of transportation before completely letting go of what they’re used to.

This means that, without you knowing, customers that come and fuel up their tank at your pump today, may also own an electric vehicle which they might want to charge at your location should you start offering this option.

Someone filling up their tank with gas

And even if they don’t own an EV yet, chances are that many of your customers are considering it. According to our research, 40% of potential EV drivers have expressed that their fear of not being able to charge wherever they need to, is the main reason for them not to get an electric car. Also, 30% mentions that they won’t get an EV, because they consider the time it takes to charge to be too long. 

Now that setting up a suitable fast-charging infrastructure is a top priority for many countries and gas stations across the globe are tapping into this growing market, we expect these worries to fade soon.

Businesses like yours are helping to shift this perspective, putting the minds of (potential) customers at ease, while growing their offering with a new range of services that meet tomorrow’s needs.

 

Learn what fast charging can mean for your
fuel retail business

Read our free ebook to get a complete overview of all fast EV charging possibilities, their differences, and what to look out for before investing.

Download now

 

Read more about EV charging for fuel retailers

Tapping into electric mobility means more than just attracting and retaining customers for gas stations. Providing EV charging stations can mean additional upselling opportunities, commercial fleet charging deals, and improved public perception. However, there are many factors for gas stations to consider when it comes to EV charging, such as: What is the average EV driver profile? Is fast charging appealing to customers? What are the difficulties in providing EV chargers at gas stations? Check out our exhaustive fuel retail guide to learn everything you need about this topic.

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