Electric Cars in the Spotlight at Los Angeles Auto Show

With more EVs on the road, supermarkets, malls and convenience retailers have to adapt to accommodate chargers. 

November 22, 2019

LOS ANGELES—During this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, electric vehicles are taking a starring role as more automakers are bringing out EV models and more consumers are snapping them up, France 24 reports. According to the Edison Electric Institute, the number of EVs in the United States is forecasted to hit 18.7 million by 2030. But with this shift comes challenges for gasoline stations, malls, grocery stores and other retail and government facilities.

“I've been dealing with convenience and fuel retail for 20 years and I'll tell you, three years ago they had no interest in electric vehicle charging at all, they wanted EV to die,” said John Eichberger, executive director at Fuels Institute. “They thought it was the biggest threat to their business model. … But now, they realize that they are their customers.”

For traditional gas stations, the minimum 20 to 30 minutes to recharge an EV is vastly different from the typical three to four minutes customers tend to spend there. While most drivers will charge EVs at home or work, fast chargers at gas stations would create a new business opportunity.

“Along with foodservice offers and free Wifi, it could give that opportunity to develop a business model around that customer base that can be added onto the existing business mode,” Eichberger said. “We're seeing a lot of them start to do that and figure out what makes sense for their customer.”

Kroger is one grocery chain that is embracing EVs. “The data that I see is suggesting that in 20 years, over 30% of the vehicles on the road will be some form of electric car that requires some form of charge,” said Ed Hudson, senior director for corporate research for Kroger. “It is going to change the parking lots. … How are we going to change our designs of customer drop-off pick-up? Where are we going to put all these EV chargers? How many different companies try to do their own proprietary system, like Tesla?” The potential changes to and possibilities for new businesses are out there. Only time will tell what shape they will take when it comes to EVs.