In this series, C&I investigates the future of roadside retailers and their ability to survive and thrive in an ever-changing environment.

Over the next few weeks, C&I will speak with leaders in the field about how they see the petrol and convenience industry adapting to the changes in the way Australians are using the channel.

This week we speak with Alexandra Kelly, Policy Manager at the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC).

C&I: What do you see as the role of service and petrol stations in the future?

Kelly: Petrol stations will continue to provide drivers with options for refuelling, as we see stronger uptake of electric vehicles, we’ll see more recharging stations sitting alongside petrol bowsers. Already, electric vehicle networks are being deployed in petrol stations across the country because they are convenient, safe, and with amenities. Plus, drivers are already familiar with them. They’re an obvious fit for EV charging stations.

C&I: What is the importance of transitioning to EVs?

Kelly: Transport emissions in Australia make up 19 per cent of our total emissions, with light vehicle ownership contributing the majority. If we are to limit the impacts of climate change, the frequency of natural disasters, and the devastation caused by them, then we need to achieve net-zero by 2050. With the average lifetime of a car approximately 15 years old, that means we really only have until 2035 to shift new cars to electric.

C&I: Globally, are there any markets that Australian roadside retailers should look to for advice and inspiration?

Kelly: The UK, Europe and China are examples of markets that are transitioning and investing in electric vehicles*.

There are now more than 38,000 public fast chargers in Europe, up 55 per cent on 2020 numbers, including nearly 7500 in Germany, 6200 in the United Kingdom, 4000 in France and 2000 in the Netherlands.

The pace of fast charger (charging power more than 22 kW) installations in China in 2020 increased by 44 per cent to almost 310,000 fast chargers.

C&I: Are there any petrol retailers in Australia that you’d highlight as having evolved their business models particularly well?

Kelly: Well-known retailers such as Ampol and BP are members of the Electric Vehicle Council with plans to deploy EV charging stations across Australia, building on their existing networks. There are also small/independent retailers that are recognising the benefit of attracting electric vehicle drivers to their sites as a means to increase their incomes.

If retailers can offer coffee/tea/meals or even just somewhere nice to sit, then EV drivers will comfortably wait for the vehicles to recharge before they head on their way.

*Source: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2021

If your company would like to take part in C&I’s Future of Roadside Retailing Series to discuss its goals, challenges, and successes in adapting to changes in the P&C channel, please get in contact with tom@c-store.com.au.

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