Offtopic: The future of the gas station

This is not about the usual geekyness – it is about a change I am sure is about to happen. Once the benefits are clear – I am quite sure everybody will want an electric car instead of their gas/diesel-one. The concept of having an energy-buffer, in the shape of the cars in a region, to collect surplus energy in low usage periods for use in high usage periods are so compelling. Windmills are cool, but still inefficient in comparison with other sources if the surplus energy isn’t stored. This is in a broad perspective what Better Place wants to do.

I passed a long line of gas stations the other day – What will happen to them? I know the change will not happen overnight – if at all. But how would we prepare for the future if we had a gas station? Better Place says they will prepare the stations for the transition of becoming a battery station, but as I see it – many people will not need them anymore. Why? Because many commuters drive less than 160km per day. According to Better Place, that will be the range of one battery charge – and a key part of the new model is that drivers charge their car at home when the energy is cheap/green – also offering the battery in their car to the common energy buffer.

So – in Denmark anyway – if the gas stations will no longer sell gas and only (let’s guess – unable to find numbers) 10% of the current customer base (those driving more than 160km a day) will need to recharge their cars/switch batteries at the old gas station – can the gas station survive merely as a 7-Eleven store only closed at night?

My guess is that they are looking at a pretty big change in their business model – and I think they can if they embrace the change. If they fight the change they only have to look at the news papers to see how that works out..

What they need to do? Dunno – but one thing that has bothered me for ages now is the inability to find stuff for my car in the shops. If i want chewing gum, porn or soda – the gas station is where to get it. But light bulbs, fuses, polish is hidden away in the far corner of the shops. I think that stuff needs to move up ahead in the shop, so the mindset of the customers in five to ten years won’t be: “The gas station? Ahh – you mean the 7-Eleven that is closed at night!”

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