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What Will Tomorrow’s Gas Stations Look Like?

Oil companies experiment with mobile apps, delivery and foodservice as analysts predict a future with declining demand for gasoline.

Tags: Trends

May 26, 2017

​IRVING, Texas – The world’s largest oil companies are tinkering with what makes a gas station, as mobile apps, fuel delivery, alternative fuels and foodservice become more prominent and consumers look for even more convenience, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Analysts like the firm Wood Mackenzie are forecasting softening demand for gasoline as electric cars become more popular and fuel efficiency improves. Automated cars and vehicle sharing also will likely impact the gasoline station industry.

Over the next year and a half, Royal Dutch Shell will play around with adapting fuel stations to provide hydrogen, electric chargers and liquefied natural gas alongside gasoline. BP already has 50 locations with electric chargers globally, while France’s Total SA will put in 300 charging stations throughout Europe and 400 hydrogen pumps in Germany by 2023. Exxon Mobile is working on a new gasoline aimed at more fuel-efficient cars.

While many of these companies jettisoned retail station ownership recently, now some of them are opening new gas stations or revamping current ones with an eye to the emerging alternative fuel markets. For example, BP will open 200 stations in Mexico and as many as 3,500 in India in the coming years. Many of its U.K. stations have Marks & Spencer food locations too. “Fifteen years ago it was just fuel,” said Alex Jensen, vice president for BP’s retail arm in Europe. Today, half of the company’s U.K. customers stop by for food, not fuel.

Shell has a mobile app that lets consumers pay for gas with their phone and might install lockers for online order pickup. The company is also considering a restaurant concept to bolster its convenience food. Shell also began a pilot fuel-delivery service in the Netherlands, where customers can request a Shell fill up delivered to wherever their car is parked, via a company-developed app.