The future of the convenience store industry is electrifying. While conventional fuels will be a necessity for consumers and commercial drivers for the foreseeable future, growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales provides a new opportunity to capture an additional market segment. Recent estimates suggest that 45 percent of new car sales could be electric by 2035, making it crucial for convenience store operators to capitalize on this trend. Explore the growing electric vehicle market and consider the benefits of adding EV charging stations to complement and grow your fuel-driven business.
The Growing EV Market
The electric vehicle market is on the upswing, with more consumers opting for EVs. The Alternative Fuels Data Center, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, reported nearly 50,000 EV charging stations in operation in the United States as of October 2022. Moreover, 93 percent of these charging stations are publicly accessible, and 99 percent are direct current (D.C.) fast chargers. In Q1 of 2023, they reported a 3.2% increase in the number of EV charging ports, including a 4.0% increase in public ports and a 1.7% increase in private ports, with the most significant growth in D.C. fast ports.
In 2022, 5 percent of new vehicle purchases were electric, up from 3 percent in 2021. Furthermore, the number of EV registrations reached 7 percent in January 2023. Some experts believe up to 30 percent of new vehicles will be electric before 2030.
This shift towards electric vehicles presents a unique opportunity for convenience store owners to provide EV charging services. Many C-store chains and travel centers are already taking steps to introduce or expand their EV charging networks, recognizing the potential for growth in this sector. Providing EV charging ports is a great way to literally put yourselves on the map, attract new customers, and race past your competition in growing your business.
Elevating the Convenience Store Experience
C-store owners can differentiate themselves by offering a unique charging experience. Charging stations with a pull-through design and weather-protective canopies can provide an experience similar to fuel pumps, setting convenience stores apart from many existing charging stations that lack amenities like shelter from the elements, clean restrooms, Wi-Fi, and refreshments.
One of the key advantages of offering EV charging services is the extended dwell time it brings. While selling EV charging alone may not lead to substantial profits, the average dwell time at a charging station is 23 minutes, compared to just five minutes for gasoline fill-ups. To maximize this additional time, c-store owners should consider offering amenities that entice customers into the store, such as high-quality public restrooms, packaged goods, cafes, and quality food service.
Just as gas pumps have video and audio to attract customers inside the store, similar marketing strategies can be applied to EV charging stations. Retailers with mobile apps can send customers notifications about in-store offers while charging, encouraging them to make purchases and rewarding their loyalty.
Adding EV charging stations may be easier than you think.
Investing in a new technology may seem daunting. However, there are many resources available for business owners. From local and federal incentives to third-party partnerships, GP Energy can help you evaluate the options and identify strategies for adding EV charging stations to complement your fuel-driven business.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November 2021, has paved the way for grants and funding programs to support the installation of EV charging infrastructure. These programs include the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, offering $5 billion in funding, and the Discretionary Grant Program for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure, offering $2.5 billion in funding. Convenience store operators can tap into these programs to cover the costs of installing EV charging stations.
Convenience store owners have the opportunity to either own and operate the charging stations themselves or partner with a third-party management service. Owning the charging stations offers more control over the guest experience and allows C-store owners to create a seamless customer journey, potentially increasing loyalty. Since EV drivers tend to spend more time at the charging stations than traditional fuel customers, integrating loyalty programs and incentives is vital to drive them into the store and encourage product purchases.
On the other hand, partnering with a third-party management service may be a viable option for those who prefer not to oversee the entire process. However, this approach involves giving up some control over the guest experience. It is crucial to negotiate contract terms, including length, and explore whether the C-store will have access to the data collected from the charging stations.
Race to greater revenue with the help of GP Energy.
Contact our experts at GP Energy to help analyze your business and introduce you to strategies to increase your revenues and profitability. We work with business owners to implement complementary product services that enhance their business success, from card lock functionality to grab-and-go meal programs, car washes, and more.
We can help you search for the right location, select between branded or unbranded fuel, consider new technologies like adding EV charging stations, build your business brand, diversify your product line, select ancillary services to boost your bottom line, and so much more. By partnering with GP Energy, we can help your business unlock its potential with new opportunities and achieve unimaginable success.