The days when you only went to the gas station to fill up and at most grabbed a can of motor oil or new wiper blades before leaving an unwelcoming place in the dust are long gone.
Today, the gas station is a popular meeting place, particularly when everything else is closed, and gasoline no longer makes up the bulk of its sales. Quick snacks and espresso either on the spot or on the go, barbecue charcoal and drinks, flowers, books and small gifts are among the things people like to pick up at the gas station. Sometimes you can even pick up or send packages. The concept seems like a no-brainer. But gas station owners have had to rethink their approach thoroughly, and not just since Corona.
Gas takes on a secondary role
For some time now, the fact that gasoline and diesel sales are declining has been foreseeable, as a study by KPMG’s auditors on the future of gas stations shows. Car sharing and alternative fuels are spurring on this development. This was also partly due to the lockdown measures which drastically restricted mobility. Because an increasing number of vehicles belong to a company fleet, individual repair shop services are also experiencing a decrease in demand. Smart gas station owners see the changes as an opportunity to reposition themselves and safeguard their future. KPMG highlights the opportunities:
From upscale restaurants to supermarkets with convenient checkout options, co-working spaces and laundromats to banking, childcare and car-sharing, many things can be envisioned at the gas station of the future. This shows how important it is to collaborate with other companies. If you want to extend your services in a plausible way, you need strong partners.
Technology is also important. Mobile payment methods are convenient for customers and employees alike and additionally offer numerous features for demand analysis, merchandise management and customer loyalty. You can even optimize prices to suit the situation, which is good for consumers who generally think prices at gas stations are high.
But that’s not all. RFID chips attached to merchandise can even allow a flash checkout for the entire purchase, as KPMG’s specialists explain. The focus is shifting from vehicle needs to customer needs, as a McKinsey & Company analysis aptly puts it.
Despite all the alternative services, refueling is still an ongoing factor – and this is an understatement! Charging e-cars and the time associated with it are becoming increasingly important. In addition, we can already envision using hydrogen propulsion today.
However, it’s becoming clear that not every gas station can keep up with these changes. In many cases, the huge space requirements and regulations make it impossible to offer these new fuel options. But this isn’t necessarily a problem. E-charging stations are already available in many decentralized locations. The gas station of the future has many forms.
Location makes all the difference
First, there will be the downtown gas station, which is actually a convenience store that also sells gasoline, hydrogen, gas and electricity for e-cars and swaps batteries, with multiple features ranging from a car wash to e-bike rentals to a rooftop drone launch pad for a speedy delivery of ordered goods. Gas stations in outlying areas of the city will be equipped in a slightly different way. This is where guests switch to other means of transportation, such as autonomous buses. The shop will therefore primarily focus on to-go business. The gas station on the autobahn will have a completely different layout. In this case, the shop will give way to refueling or battery replacement, and lounges will be provided for those waiting as well as truckers.
Huge electric charging stations
The current Mobility Report 2022 from the Zukunftsinstitut also divides up the gas station of the future. Particularly reassuring: Stations with a conventional business model will still be needed for a long time, according to the well-known think tank. The second possible scenario is a charging park for electricity and hydrogen, which will primarily be found along autobahns and highways, as well as at shopping centers, recreational facilities and car dealerships.
By the way, a veritable electric charging station is currently being built alongside the autobahn near Zusmarshausen. Initially, they plan to have 60 charging stations. In this so-called Innovation Park, you can while away the waiting time by eating, shopping or working. The entire facility is barrier-free.
The convenient store lives
The Zukunftsinstitut (Institute for the Future) describes scenario No. 3 in a completely opposite way. The “kiosk gas station” will specialize in social and communicative services and functions, for example, as a refreshments kiosk, late-night snack bar, bistro or drive-in, with mail and courier services. They will have gas and diesel there too, of course! Scenario 4, on the other hand, will be a mobility hub, which includes charging stations specifically for sharing vehicles, and access to public transportation. This concept definitely includes a snack bar!
In short, the gas station of the future offers a whole range of opportunities, especially for forward-looking restaurant owners. After all, food and travel are inseparable and transform modern mobility into an enjoyable lifestyle.