#1 cleantech news, reviews, & analysis site in the world. Subscribe today. The future is now.

Clean Transport

Published on June 30th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Will Tesla Go Gas Station Route? In Poland, Yes! In USA, We’ll See.

June 30th, 2016 by  

Tesla Supercharger Poland 4

Poland’s 1st Tesla Supercharger station, and my buddy Jacek … who you’ll be reading a lot more about soon.

Tesla’s first Supercharger station in Poland is at a gas station. The specific gas station was an Orlen station, and Orlen is a fairly large gas station brand here, so I wondered if Tesla was planning to roll out Superchargers at more Orlen stations across the country. I found out from talking with people here that Tesla does plan to install Superchargers at other Orlen stations across the country.

Some of the knocks on the idea of locating EV charging stations at gas stations have been that gas stations aren’t pleasant places, there’s not much to do at them for long periods of time, they aren’t necessarily the best spots for city-to-city driving, and … gas stations, really?

While the idea is routinely proposed, it is often quickly shot down, and Tesla’s decision to stay away from gas stations seemed to support the argument that gas stations weren’t the route to go.

Tesla Supercharger Poland 2However, they do have their benefits, and gas needn’t be a central part of their business model. After all, gas stations don’t really make money on gas — the profit comes from the junk food they sell.

I think there’s a trend in Europe to make gas stations more pleasant than they’ve historically been — with cafes, or even full restaurants, and more relaxation and shopping opportunities inside. In addition to this semi-attraction, I assume it’s also a bit more difficult for Tesla to find property in Europe where it can stick fast chargers, thus making the synergy with gas stations more powerful.

That’s not to say it’s easy finding locations for fast chargers in the USA — the difficulty of doing so in good locations has greatly delayed BMW’s plans for a faster rollout of fast chargers. Additionally, if gas stations put a bit of effort in, they could create nice places for EV drivers to chill out for 30 minutes.

So, it’s not entirely shocking to find out that Tesla is in talks with gas station & convenience store company Sheetz. Never heard of Tesla Supercharger Poland 1Sheetz? I don’t think I had, but that’s apparently because it operates in 6 states in the Midwest. Nonetheless, it has hundreds of stores and $7 billion in revenue, so it is a sizable initial gas station partner for Tesla in the US market.

All of that said, it’s not clear Tesla is actually interested in sticking Superchargers at these gas stations. A Tesla rep noted the company’s efforts to put its high-power charging stations at hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. So, perhaps this is simply another part of Tesla’s aim to put destination chargers at places all across the country, so people can charge their cars while in hotels, at restaurants, stopping to use the toilet or grab a snack, etc.

Tesla Poland


Steve Hanley over on Gas2 carries the line of thought further:

The current business model for gas stations will undergo a sea change. Today, it is all about getting customers in and out as quickly as possible. The stores generate much of their revenue from quick, point-of-sale purchases like coffee, cigarettes, and snacks. But that model is under pressure. The amount of gasoline pumped will decline about 20% in coming years, as cars with better gas mileage and more electric cars are added to the mix.

That’s according to John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, which was founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores. “Those kiosks that just sell gallons and smokes are going to have to change,” said Eichberger. “They’re going to lose gallons. Plain and simple, no way around it.”

He thinks the gas station of the future will look radically different. It will be more like a restaurant or highway rest stop than a convenience store. It will focus on more inviting interiors where customers can relax while their cars recharge. It will sell a selection of higher priced products like high end coffee and prepared foods. Tesla is driving the coming changes and wants to be part of the action, which is why it is talking with Sheetz.

I have a feeling gas stations will look for ways to become more attractive for longer visits, and will transition with the auto industry in time. Of course, with ~90% of charging done at home or work, there will be a lot less need for such places, so I also think we’ll see a dramatic shrinking of the market. Your thoughts?

Photos by Zach Shahan, for CleanTechnica & EV Obsession; Jacek Fior; Jacek Fior; and D1 Tesla

Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he’s also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.

  • ROBwithaB

    I wonder what the hardware and installation costs are looking like these days for the Superchargers?
    Presumably, with increasing standardisation and economies of scale, prices should be dropping significantly.
    The initial teething troubles associated with local permitting etc must have been a nightmare, and would have eaten up a lot of employee hours, and caused significant delays. Even negotiating with landlords would have been a major time-suck, being an unknown entity and not having good data on demand etc.
    Most of this seems to be behind them now, and we can predict a lot more of these regional or national deals coming soon. Instead of negotiating one site at a time, they can arrange for dozens in one go.
    I’d be curious to see how the unit cost per charging pay has changed over the course of the past 36 months…

  • JMin2020

    Great post Zach. I was wondering when Elon would go this route. Great minds do think alike.

  • Jim C

    Some of the superchargers are already at gas stations in the U.S. Here’s my stop in Effingham, Illinois. The superchargers are at a BP gas station. There are several restaurants and two hotels nearby too.

    • Brent Jatko

      That’s really cool. Thanks for the photo.

      I’m sure Texas has places like these, I just don’t get out on the road to see them.

  • RobertM

    Sheets are more convenience stores then gas stations. They are all over PA and they sell all kinds of fresh made items like hamburgers, hot dogs, subs, etc.

    • neroden

      Yeah. I don’t think Tesla really wants to put Superchargers at a “gas-focused” gas station, but full-service convenience stores which happen to have gas — it makes sense.

  • MaartenV

    When my kids were small we used to stop every 2 hours at a gas station along the highway when travelling through France or Germany. Not for the gas, my 20 gallon tank was good for 8 hours of driving, but to free the kids from their chairs and seatbelts and have them spent their energy in the playground. And to have a picnic with my wife in the grass. Eat a sandwich, have some excellent coffee.

    And now that my kids are grown up, and my daughter wants to go shopping in Paris with her friends, we stop at a gas station for the same reasons. To sit at a table, to be away of the noise of the highway, to have coffee (black, espresso, cappuccino, latte or whatever is the new favorite). And to have a great French sandwich, use the restroom, read a magazine or a newspaper.

    I can’t imagine a better place to have a half hour stop on a long road trip. But I am Dutch. My last road trip in the USA is some time back. And the gas stations were of the highway and at best not dirty. No place to rest for half an hour.

    • ROBwithaB

      First World problems…

  • Tristan Rhodes

    This is an interesting topic. If we assume that the public motor fleet will become more and more electric, then of course there will be less need for gas, and therefore gas stations. And since electric cars can be charged at home, then we don’t need public “energy stations” except for emergencies. There will always be “convenience stores” for people who are travelling, or in a hurry. But overall, electric cars will put a lot of gas stations out of business. :-

  • JanVyt

    Another interesting development is a creation of a charging facility that provides Supercharging, Chademo, CCS and AC level 2 and 3 charging (eg Vystrkov in Czech republic). Usually Tesla SC and non-SC charging is provided at physically different locations but I think it has some advantages to combine Level 4, 3 and 2 charging facilities.

    I do not know how such facilities are set-up in practice (who does take initiative, how are construction cost shared etc. ). Hopefully this type of cooperation can contribute in standardising the charging infrastructure.

  • J.H.

    What kind of arrangement does Tesla have with the restaurants/ holets, ect. Do they pay rent?

    • Zero_X_Rider

      I see restaurants and hotels paying rent to Tesla to attract the upscale market leading client base of Tesla owners and fans.

      • Harry Johnson

        And those restaurants and hotels should have SolarCity panels on their rooftops to power the building and Superchargers. This can make the Tesla traveling experience as carbon-free as possible.

        • Zero_X_Rider

          Only if those restaurants and hotels want to lower their usually very high power bills by buying solar. And I’m not even a Tesla fan.

          • Harry Johnson

            Yes, that’s what I meant by referring to powering the building.

    • Tesla provides free chargers. Even contacts these places to offer them the chargers. If I’m not mistaken, this falls under Tesla’s marketing budget.

      And it’s up to the sites to charge for use or offer free charging, iirc.

      • Zero_X_Rider

        There is no such thing as a free lunch.

        • neroden

          I’ve had many free lunches.

          Anyway, the deal is, Tesla provides the chargers at no charges, the property owner provides the property at no charge. It’s a barter transaction.

    • RobertM

      Depends on if they are Destination Charging or Supercharger. Destination Charging Tesla provides the hardware and pay for installation but the location pays the power bill. The location gets to choose who can access the station so they can limit it to people who spend money at their location. Whereas Superchargers Tesla pays rent to the location and pays all the costs for installation and the ongoing power bills.

      • neroden

        I have read that for Superchargers, Tesla arranges to pay nominal ($1/year, etc.) rent. That’s part of the deal. The location owner benefits thanks to the foot traffic.

        • J.H.

          And Tesla pays the energy cost?

          • RobertM

            That is my understanding.

          • J.H.


          • J.H.

            Does that include the cost of utility up grades?

          • RobertM

            Does that include the cost of utility up grades? — J.H.

            From what I have read not from first hand experience. In the case of SC Tesla will come in an negate a small rental agreement with the location something to the effect of a $1 a month of something like that then they come in an pay for everything in setting up an maintaining the cost of running the SC location. The location get the benfit of having the people showup and be there for like 30 mins at a pop for the cost of losing some parking spaces. However in the case of DC Tesla gives them the hardware but that pay for the power but they have a little more control and it is used a locations where people are expected to be for a while since it is basically a level 2 charger.

          • J.H.

            How many ?kw are the DC ? 50kw?

          • RobertM

            How many ?kw are the DC ? 50kw? — J.H.

            Destination Chargers are generally level 2 chargers the same power levels someone would install in there home generally depends on the vehicles but I believe Tesla design will push 22 kw.

Back to Top ↑