How electric cars may change the future of the Australian service station

www.abc.net.au
5 min read
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Experts predict a shift away from hydrocarbon fuels in the decades to come. Does that mean saying goodbye to the service station as we know it?
You may never have considered its existence, but the humble servo has accompanied you everywhere.

From refuelling the car to buying an ice cream on a hot day or picking up supplies on a road trip — it has been a hallmark of most Australian lives.

But in the decades to come, the service station as you know it could cease to exist.

Just how electric vehicles and alternate fuels like hydrogen will change the petrol station of the future is Ashley Lang's area of expertise.

"There'll be increasing options for the reuse of these sites as we see a shift away from hydrocarbon fuels towards electric," Ms Lang said.

A strategist at AECOM, a major infrastructure company, she works with large fuel retailers and says they are already diversifying — fuel margins mean stations rely on retail to make money.

"We've seen these sites, over the past 10 to 15 years, diversify into retail and other areas like food and parcel pick up, drop-off dry cleaning — that kind of thing," she said.

Stations are more likely to make a profit fuelling drivers with coffee and energy drinks than by fuelling their cars.

But without the need to store hazardous, flammable fuels, service stations could open to a variety of business, or even community spaces, especially those in central locations, Ms Lang said.

"We're definitely going to see a shift away from fuelling, some of these sites won't be fuelling at all," she said.

"Rather, they'll be community and or retail spaces that have a greater diversity of use."

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