Why Fuel Retailers Are the Best Option for EV Charging

NACS advocates for the convenience store industry as the best recipient of federal grant funds for EV charging.

May 05, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, has sent a letter to the federal government advocating for the convenience store and fuel retailing industry as the best recipient of federal grant funds for EV charging.

The letter states that the industry provides the most convenient locations for EV drivers, as well as competitive pricing. In addition, c-stores offer the services, amenities and security that consumers have come to expect alongside the refueling network.

“EV charging availability at existing fuel retailing locations would mean drivers do not need to change their habits if they choose not to—they can refuel on-the-go at the same convenient locations that they do today,” wrote the associations in the letter. “The availability of fast charging capacity and pricing on large price signs at fuel retailers’ locations throughout the country is the most effective way to relieve EV range anxiety. Fuel retailers are best equipped to play this role.”

Fuel retailers efficiently meet the needs of Americans, according to the associations, with most fuel retailers open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They provide restrooms, food and beverage options, sufficient lighting and on-site employees to contact law enforcement or emergency medical technician services in the event of an emergency.

“Our members are often located in relatively remote areas and can at times be one of the only sources of food, convenience items and fueling for local residents. Overall, 93% of Americans live within 10 minutes of a business in our industry and that includes 86% of Americans located in rural areas,” wrote the associations in the letter.

The associations point out that because EV charging takes longer than a gas fill-up, customers will no longer have a five-minute stop but will instead have a 30-minute experience, and consumer satisfaction with this experience is essential to widespread adoption of EVs.

“Members of the industry compete with one another on speed, customer service, and amenities—the very attributes of a positive refueling experience. If they receive grants to install EV charging stations, fuel retailers will have every incentive to make the EV customer experience the best it can be,” wrote the associations.

An important point the association make is that fuel retailers vigorously compete with one another on price. Businesses with monopoly positions in their markets do not do that.

“In order for EV drivers to receive the best pricing and services possible over time, they will need a highly competitive market serving them—just like drivers of internal combustion engine vehicles have today,” according to the associations. “That should be the model and the goal of public policy to increase EV charging capacity.”

EV charging remains a barrier to widespread EV adoption. In a recent Deloitte survey, 48% of respondents said range anxiety was a top concern when buying an EV, followed closely by the time required to charge (47%) and lack of public EV charging infrastructure (46%).

For consumers who do drive EVs, their top desired amenity while charging is Wi-Fi connectivity (64%). Restrooms (60%), coffee/beverages (56%) and snacks/light meals (48%) were the next most desired offerings.

When charging on the go, 24% of U.S. consumers want a dedicated EV service station, and 20% want a traditional gas station with EV chargers. However, a significant number of people surveyed (25%) in the U.S. simply want access to charging when they need it regardless of location.

Because these EV owners will have time on their hands to spend at c-stores while their vehicles recharge, some retail experts say that c-stores may be required to change their formats. Here are five things c-stores can offer waiting EV customers.

NACS offers the EV Charging Calculator, which allows retailers to assess the cost and profitability of offering EV chargers at their sites. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.