Image courtesy of ChargePoint.

Amenities Are Key To EV Charging At Convenience Stores

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One thing we’ve written about a lot here at CleanTechnica is the future of convenience stores in the EV transition. My take has been that gas stations can’t just add EV chargers out front next to the gas pumps and hope for the best. Why? Because EV charging is a fundamentally different service than gasoline and diesel sales. Few local drivers are going to charge at a gas station because most charge at home. And the increased dwell time for an EV driver means that gas stations with more food and other amenities will succeed.

A recent article at C-Store Dive indicates that the convenience store industry is arriving at the same conclusions. Using data from ChargePoint, editor Jessica Loder gives concrete numbers and evidence where I had only given gut feelings and experience driving EVs myself.

The biggest thing is that people are spending an average of 40 minutes plugged in at a ChargePoint station, and that’s the latest data from 2023. This is obviously a lot different and a lot longer than the average gasoline buyer, who fills up, maybe grabs a drink and a candy bar, and then rolls off. So, convenience stores need to make sure to give them something to do, and more importantly something to buy during those 40 minutes!

This is, of course, only an average. Some local drivers getting just a few more miles of range might only stay for a few minutes. Others might be staying for over an hour. The mix of customers will depend a lot on whether a customer is coming in off the interstate or stopping in to get a few miles to get home after an unusually long day of driving, or a day of commercial driving (rideshare, deliveries, etc.).

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Another key data point is that convenience stores know now that they need about 30% utilization for the chargers to be profitable by themselves, and not be subsidized by inside sales. This means that store owners will be a lot more careful about the decision to pull the trigger on EV charging installation than they have before, but at the same time, these more well thought-out decisions will likely lead to higher quality charging experiences because the equipment will be kept up.

Again, the big thing to make people come to one store over another is amenities. Travelers and rideshare drivers alike are going to need a bathroom. Snacks are a big plus, but the time spent also gives time for meals. Wifi is a big thing that can attract people. Also, coffee is key, because people doing more driving are going to want to stay awake.

There’s probably a lot more to think about going forward. The types of customers attracted will obviously make a difference in what additional amenities are needed. For this, we should probably look to truck stops, which are starting to add things like dog parks for pets to get out (a form of bathroom, really), picnic tables in places that have good weather, and landscaping to make the experience more aesthetically pleasing and safe-feeling.

One thing’s for sure: store owners are going to have to work to outsmart the competition and find a good niche.

Featured image by ChargePoint.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba