Despite the headlines they’ve generated, alternative vehicles are not yet filling up the roads. Research presented at the Fuels Institute’s FUELS2018 event in May showed that electric vehicles (EVs) are a small portion of the total population on the road, with growth hampered by higher prices and limited availability. But slow growth isn’t no growth.
And today’s technology is evolving faster than expected. As electric cars and connected cars begin to enter the mainstream, and consumers shift their approach to vehicle transportation, convenience store and fuel retailers will need to adapt or get left behind.
“In order to survive, the modern c-store MUST evolve from the low-cost leader category of fuel to address what will get customers to stop in the future,” said Michael Johnson, vice president of North America for TLM Technologies Inc., which works with convenience and fuel retailers to develop unique technologies and integrate the systems necessary to make smarter, more profitable decisions.
The first challenge that vehicles of the future pose is a reduction in the number of gas-station visits consumers will make on average. If a driver who gets 30 miles per gallon (MPG) and fills up every two weeks purchases a 58 MPG hybrid, he or she will only need to buy gas every three to four weeks — or half the number of annual visits they previously made, Johnson noted. “Unless other aspects of convenience stores, beyond fuel, are emphasized, consumers will have less reason to stop in, causing profits to erode,” he explained. A variety of other factors also will change the way consumers travel and why they visit c-stores, according to Gunter Pfau, founder and CEO of Stuzo, which offers connected commerce technology solutions and product strategy, design and engineering services.
“This is a technology disruption powered by improved and lower-cost […]