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The Evolution Of Forecourts with the Rise Of Electric Vehicles

Greg Collins
Project Manager at Intouch.com
April 27, 2020
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We are all acutely aware of the rise in Electric Vehicle production, across the world, in recent years. No longer is it a faraway, futuristic concept. It is happening, and fast.

Forecourts around the globe are installing EV points to meet the growing demands. However, some countries have moved to battery powered vehicles quicker than others. Take Norway for example, In March 2020 electric cars took 55% of market share. Interestingly, Norway is Europe’s second-largest oil producer, yet they are still shifting towards Electric Vehicles.

Every car manufacturer nowadays is releasing Electric Vehicles, and as with any new technology, they will only improve. However, EV’s biggest hurdle to climb will always be battery size and potential travel distance off of a single charge. It’s inevitable that as research and development in the area grows, so too will battery capacity as charge times decrease. All of this combined will be an attractive proposition to the modern consumer, where the most sensible option may well be to purchase an Electric Vehicle. Volvo have even announced that their aim is to have fully electric cars contributing at least 50 per cent of their sales by 2025, a true reflection of where the market is headed.

How Do Forecourts Remain Relevant?
The majority of forecourts no longer simply deliver petrol or diesel. They are retailers, offering the ability to fill up with fuel together with other services, such as food to go, convenience shopping, and speciality coffee. Forecourts will need to evolve further to become destinations or else they will struggle to keep up with their competitors.

It’s not all doom and gloom, there is always room for growth amid change. Currently, it takes 3-4 minutes to fill a car tank with petrol or diesel and dwell time from customers can average out at less than 2 minutes. This doesn’t give a lot of time for customers to shop, and ultimately contributes to a rushed, often uneventful experience.

Electric cars can take up to 40 minutes on a fast charge, and even factoring in future technological advancements decreasing this over time it still leaves customers with plenty of dwell time to spend at the forecourt. The successful forecourts will see this as a golden opportunity to develop ways to engage with customers in this time and create a positive experience for them.

In-store experiences such as hair or nail salons may begin to pop up. There could be in-store cooking demonstrations that allow for retailers to engage with their customers and offer unique insights, such as ideas for dinner, with the ingredients for sale in the store.

How will Forecourt design change?
Today, Forecourts are designed around wet stock management,  as underground tanks full of fuel are the priority when it comes to layout of the sites. In the future, where less and less fuel will be sold, the store layouts have the opportunity to change dramatically. Work has already begun on multiple electric vehicle only forecourts in the UK & North America. With less real estate being taken up by tanks and fuel pumps, it allows forecourts to expand their convenience offering and drastically shake up age old conventions of what a standard station can be.

A Gridserve mockup of an Electric Vehicle Forecourt

How Does This Affect The Customer?
The average cost to fill a 55-litre tank in the UK is £60.09. This will get you approximately 500 miles. Out of Home charging points charge approximately 23p /kWh, meaning 500 miles of range costs about £35 with the charge time taking roughly 30 minutes. While the cost of filling up will decrease, the dwell time increases a lot. One reason consumers may not be switching to electric vehicles is that they are nervous about the infrastructure. While there may be the ability to fuel up all over the country, the number of charging ports is much lower right now. Naturally, customer behaviour over time will shift. Attitudes will have to change as with EVs time needs to be set aside to charge out of home. You will have to plan your further journeys a little smarter, keeping track in advance of charge points along the way. We also may see the luxury of instant filling may become a thing of the past!

Nobody has a definitive answer as to what the Forecourt of the future will look like, but car manufacturers are betting big on electric vehicles. They’ve begun to create all-electric vehicle plants, with GM investing $2.2b earlier this year. One thing we know is that these new-age retail stores will need to remain relevant in this new era of mobility. Will you be able to satisfy the needs of those who pass by on a daily basis? We can help with the first steps. Get In touch!

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