At this very early stage of vehicle electrification, no one can be certain of what an optimal public charging network will look like. Conventional wisdom at this point calls for DC fast chargers along highways, and Level 2 chargers at destination locations such as tourist attractions, shopping malls, etc.
There is also a school of thought that believes existing gas stations are appropriate locations. Russia’s decree that all gas stations must be equipped with public chargers was greeted mostly with skepticism (and worse) in the EV press. However, gas stations in Indiana, Hawaii, Japan and other places have opted to install chargers.
Trendsetter Tesla is including gas stations in the long list of locations for its ever-expanding network of chargers. Among other potential partners, the California carmaker is talking to Sheetz, a chain that operates hundreds of gas station and convenience store in the mid-Atlantic region. Eight Sheetz locations already feature (non-Tesla) EV chargers.
“We’ve had discussions with [Tesla] about putting their chargers in our stores,” confirmed Sheetz Executive VP Michael Lorenz.
The Washington Post reports that the gas station and convenience store industry may be catching on to the idea of offering EV charging. Jeff Lenard, a VP at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), says that experts are advising gas stations to include electrical conduits for future charging stations whenever they install new fuel tanks or other equipment.
Fuel retailers are already evolving from yesterday’s “service stations” into Sheetz- or Wawa-style convenience stores and eateries. With fuel consumption on the way down, gas stations will have to adapt or die, says John Eichberger, Executive Director of the NACS-founded Fuels Institute. “Those kiosks that just sell gallons and smokes are going to have to change. They’re going to lose gallons. The stores that feel most like restaurants [tend to] encourage higher rings.”
Meanwhile, Tesla Supercharger Stations are appearing at Ruby Tuesday locations around the country. The first recently opened in Miner, Missouri, and more are under construction. “We look forward to deepening our relationship with Tesla and opening additional Supercharger Stations in Ruby Tuesday markets around the country in the near future,” said Chief Marketing Officer David Skena.