As the market for electric cars grows, there will be a need for more electric charging stations, this will bring about a drastic change in the filling station/charging businesses and surrounding landscape. With today’s technology we will surely start seeing gas stations convert some of their parking spaces to electric charging stations.
This first transition period will see a lot of new customers that want to charge their electric cars. With the average charge times being between 10 to 30 minutes, filling stations will start to realize that they have a captive audience for an extended period of time. This will be a boon for the convenience store industry and I can see how two and three story structures emerge to cater to the new captive charging customers while they wait. This will transform the small convenience stores at filling stations into larger venues and we will also see more food offerings with seating. This will change the whole dynamic at gas stations and may see revenue growth in this traditional and nascent market segment.
No doubt regular stores will find this additional revenue stream lucrative enough to construct charging stations in regular strip mall parking lots. Fast food stores will most probably join the fray and build charging stations. What better place to charge your car while grabbing some lunch.
Hence, the race for charging stations will be a race to capture those precious 10-30 minutes people will have to wait for their cars to charge. Consumers on the other hand will also look for things to do during the wait. Hence the shopping and eating dynamic might be influenced by this new technology.
Alas, this shall also be a transient phenomenon for a decade or so. For self-driving cars are not so far off the horizon. As more self driving cars appear, most probably companies such as Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing services will own these vehicles. These cars will also need to charge but here is where a second transformation phase for the industry will appear.
These driver-less cars will require unattended charging stations so that a car can park and connect to charge on its own. Thus the charging station technology will have to adapt and be upgraded. Today’s charging stations are mostly self-serve where a human has to park and then connect the power cable.
Also with this change, a large part of charging stations will migrate to less visible and hence much cheaper real estate. The gas station on the corner lot will most probably slowly disappear giving way to more industrial areas with larger parking lots where cars can go and charge on their own.
With the long-haul trucks becoming driver-less as well, I see that these charging stations will be much bigger but in more remote areas of the city. This will have an impact on the real estate market. Overtime, corner lot filling stations may start disappearing and giving way to new types of businesses.
The electric car is not yet a mass-market phenomenon. Yet change is coming and many industries will be affected by this. In my opinion we will see a transformation of approximately 10% of our workforce by these changes. Change is coming and coming fast!