By distinguishing 3 scenarios for the development of electric mobility, the Colombus Consulting firm assesses the evolution of service station activity by 2050.
The impact of the development of electric vehicles is estimated in the study through 3 different progressions: moderate (44% of EV in 2050) due to various obstacles (societal, insufficient battery capacity, insufficiently efficient recharging network); intermediate (70%) if a marked change in uses is caused by government incentives; strong (97%) if a snowball effect occurs in addition.
The decrease in the volume of fuel sales would thus be 18, 21 or 27% in 2030, 28, 33 or 47% in 2035, 51, 66 or 83% in 2050, respectively.
Decreased profits in the traditional network
In 40 years, 75% of gas stations have closed. In the meantime, large and medium-sized stores (GMS) represent half of the stock, with a market share which increased from 13 to 63% over the period 1980-2020. The density of the network has declined from 7.5 to 2 stations per 100 km2.
By 2030, these establishments would lose an average of 14, 33 or 62% of profits depending on the progress of electric vehicles. Whatever it is, in 2050, they would record negative returns which would result in their closure unless their activity was diversified.
The latter should occur most of the time without much hope of recharging the traction batteries which will instead be carried out at home, in the workplace or on the road.
Acceleration of the disappearance of stations in rural areas
Today, due to their low volume of fuel sales, establishments in rural areas are already fragile. Some are only held by aid allocated by local authorities.
Because they cannot expect anything – or much – from electric mobility, they are the first to risk disappearing in the coming years, while their presence may be necessary for the quality of life of the territories (grocery store, bottle gas, various services including postal and banking).
“In this context, the quality of service could deteriorate in certain rural areas and lead to the appearance of white areas”, underlines Gaël Gautier, senior energy consultant for Colombus Consulting.
Large and medium-sized stations
The firm also envisages significant drops in attendance at service stations of large and medium-sized supermarkets: 19, 24 or 27% or 2030, 29, 36 or 48% in 2035, 54, 73 or 88% in 2050.
Large retailers, however, use sales of fuel at lower prices, making do with low margins, in order to attract customers to stores. The arrival of electric cars will call into question the relevance of this starter.
It is therefore not surprising that major brands are installing charging stations in their car parks, with the same objective. This was noted by François Hemono, also a senior energy consultant for the organization.
Motorway stations: the best off
According to Colombus Consulting, motorway stations are the best equipped to adapt to the development of electric vehicles. Electricity refueling requirements would be greater than those for refueling, due to a range that would always be more modest than on thermal models, when traveling at 130 km / h.
The firm advises these establishments to equip themselves without delay with charging stations and to imagine specific offers, at several speeds. It offers, for example, ultra-fast chargers (15 minutes to find several hundred kilometers of autonomy) whose use would be charged at full price, and slower terminals (60 minutes of connection), at reduced prices, which would be used of product appeal to attract electromobiliens in the shops.
Link to download the study
The decline of gas stations will be avoided by blaming electric vehicles. The phenomenon would have been quite similar if a passenger car power supply with natural gas had been chosen instead. Small domestic compressors would have made it possible to refuel at night at home, as has already been proposed going back more than 10 years.
the fall in the number of conventional service stations began with the resumption of the fuel distribution activity in large and medium-sized stores. In the early 1980s, the oil companies were playing a double game on this. They pretended to share a kind of concern with the gas station attendants dressed in their brand colors, but themselves supplied the supermarkets and hypermarkets with gasoline and diesel.
If nothing is done, mass distribution could experience the same phenomenon. The most visionary brands have, however, already found how to bounce back and maintain attractiveness by distributing energy. Some have just followed the government’s lead in its program to develop charging stations. Leclerc has thus announced 10,000 new charging points open by the end of 2022 in the car parks of its stores. Lidl and Système U are each targeting 2,000 PDCs available at the end of 2021. For Casino, it is its subsidiary GreenYellow, a supplier of green energy to individuals, which has committed to installing charging stations.
Many managers will still suffer with new station closures in the traditional network. But the oil companies have the opportunity again to bounce back. In addition to adapting motorway establishments, they will be able to develop recharging where it is most necessary on a daily basis: in the streets and in parking lots. This is what Total and Shell are already doing, to quote them.