Earlier this week, economist Steve Moore told Fox Business' Varney & Co. that electric vehicles (EVs) may be the "next big flop" for automakers and likened it to Ford's Edsel model car. Only time will tell if he is right, but time is something convenience store operators unfortunately do not have if they want to future-proof their operations for potential changes coming to the mobility landscape.
Taking a wait-and-see approach could result in operators being left behind as industry players like Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., bp, Sheetz Inc. and Wawa Inc. take major steps toward becoming the convenience brand of choice for the EV consumer.
Before entering the EV charging space, however, convenience retailers need to factor in some key considerations. For example, do you want to go it on your own by owning the EV charging stations on your lot, or would you rather they be operated by a third party?
Much like other initiatives in the channel, owning the charging stations gives a retailer more control over the entire ecosystem, as a ChargePoint company spokesperson told Convenience Store News for its September issue cover story. However, for retailers who do not have the expertise, the staff or the time to manage the process, then the third-party route makes more sense.
Other key considerations include space, not only for the charging stations themselves but also for any value-added amenities that may draw in EV customers who will need something to do for 30 minutes; and the ability of the property's power grid to handle the extra electricity use associated with EV charging.
Every site is different, so a blanket approach to investing in an EV future may not be wise. Only a thoughtful approach will tell what's right for your capabilities, your stores and your brand.