Most debates surrounding the electrification of cars center around its impact on the supply chain and repair infrastructure of gas-burning cars or even employment, but few have paid attention to the fate of gas stations, whose operators are trembling in their boots as we speak.
Assuming that the electrification of vehicles is by and large inevitable, automakers, the automotive supply chain, and dealerships are all gearing up for the upcoming transition. How will one of the most crucial components of gas-burning cars – gas stations – play a role in this?
On March 15, bp and Volkswagen announced their strategic collaboration to install DC fast charging infrastructure in thousands of gas stations throughout Europe. Gas stations under the bp and Aral banners will participate in this collaboration.
Having signed a memorandum of agreement, the two companies are now working out further details of their partnership, which will be unveiled in the next quarter, although some preliminary business directions have already been established.
Gas stations operated by bp and by Aral are found throughout virtually the entire Europe. VW hopes to install a 150-350kW charging pole, which can charge an EV to max capacity in 15 minutes, at each of these gas stations.
It should be pointed out that gas stations have been successively constructed since about a century ago, during which land was cheap, and most gas stations were located in traffic hotspots. What this means is that drivers do not need to relearn charging locations after switching over to EVs, since charging stations are located at existing gas stations.
VW and bp claim that 90% of Britons and Germans can reach at least one bp or Aral gas station within 20 minutes of driving. As such, providing fast charging service at all these gas stations will give a massive vote of confidence for car owners to transition to EVs.
▲bp’s 88 charging stations in New South Wales, Australia will be delivering electricity via 100% renewable energy by 2023.
Although VW’s plan to build an additional 18,000 fast charging stations in Europe may at first seem cost-prohibitive, it shouldn’t be out of reach for the company given the collaboration among major automakers including VW, bp, Audi, and Porsche.
On the other hand, in addition to the onset of its transformational efforts in Europe, bp is also expecting to build about 70,000 charging stations around the world by 2030. Case in point, bp pulse and Aral pulse will have constructed 250 and 500 fast charge stations in Britain and Germany, respectively, by the end of the year.
In addition to supplying gas, which is, of course, what gas stations are meant to do, bp gas stations also double as a plethora of other functions, such as convenience stores, cafes, and in some cases supermarkets.
At the same time, in spite of bp’s origin as a gas station chain, the company is currently branching out to the wind power, solar power, and hydrogen fuel industries in an effort to achieve net-zero carbon emission.
In an ideal situation, every household will be equipped with the ability to charge EVs, while charging stations that double as rest areas for long journeys are also found aplenty throughout the various routes rural and urban. Outfitting all gas stations with EV chargers would spare many drivers headaches over their cars’ battery levels.