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What will the gas station of the future look like?

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Patrick Dehaan of Gasbuddy joins us to discuss what the future holds for gas stations as the country, and the globe, push forward towards with EVs.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: OK, we know General Motors is going to phase out gasoline engine vehicles by 2035. There's a lot of action on that front, other manufacturers moving even closer to phasing them out. Let's talk about the future of gas stations with Patrick Dehaan. He is GasBuddy. It's good to have you here. And very simply, what is the future? Because I love my V8 gasoline-powered car, but I'm going to have to get over that, aren't I?

PATRICK DEHAAN: Yeah, there's a lot of Americans that still are going to dealerships to buy those less fuel efficient bigger vehicles. That's been a trend across the country. It's only been a few years really since all the major manufacturers slowed down production of passenger vehicles to go to bigger vehicles.

And now, of course, with the Biden administration making changes on Earth Day, announcing, of course, that goal of cutting 50% of emissions over the next nine years by 2030, fairly ambitious unless there's a major program to the likes of Cash for Clunkers. That may be something that could be struggled with, unless we see more incentive from the government to go that EV route. So I don't expect internal combustion engines to disappear anytime soon.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Hey, Patrick, Pras here. So if we think that we're going to be seeing gas stations in their present form for a long time now, but also seeing EV cars hit the road in greater quantity, where are we going to charge these cars? Are we going to see these chargers at gas stations, do you think?

PATRICK DEHAAN: Well, obviously, Tesla is kind of the leading role in that. And they have a whole separate fleet of stations. But as you see adoption go up, I think first and foremost, yes, charging at home obviously the easiest for everyone. We all have electrical outlets. And that will be most popular. But as people take to the road for road trips, there's obviously still going to have to be charging along the major interstates. And you will see some of the larger travel stops. So it will eventually pivot. Some of them already have plans to install EV chargers at some of these gas stations.

So you're really the tip of the iceberg with travel stops starting to maybe add EVs. Obviously, you know, you're probably talking about your lower voltages that are less desirable. But I fully expect that modern day convenience stores are going to adapt fairly quickly once we see EV numbers soar.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: So Patrick, do you think it's more of a financial problem with regards to adding these EV chargers, or is it infrastructure? What is-- because it makes common sense from our point of view to why not have these chargers there on site where you have gas pumps.

PATRICK DEHAAN: Well, absolutely. There's a little bit of an infrastructure, and there's a big cost. And I think a lot of stations right now adapting very slowly because I don't think the numbers are quite there yet in terms of installing EV outlets at gas stations. You're taking away infrastructure from internal combustion vehicles potentially and giving it to something that has less of a market share. So I think what you're seeing right now with adoption is quite limited because the overall number of EVs outside California at least is very limited.

SEANA SMITH: Hey Pat, taking a look at gas prices, switching the conversation just a little bit, the national average around $2.89. It's held pretty steady over the last month. What are you expecting to see as we head into the summer months?

PATRICK DEHAAN: Well, I would expect Americans have been itching to get out for the last 12 months, really. And last summer wasn't what we expected. We were still on lockdown. This summer, it's going to be completely different with the vaccine really opening up every state and every state's economy for Americans to hit the road. We're already seeing passengers at airports go up. And I would expect that Americans are going to be hitting the road this summer. They can't go overseas, really. And so, expect the summer road trip to be very popular this summer. And that could boost demand and further elevate price.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Hey, Patrick. So we'll see more people out on the road, more EVs possibly on the road. What do you envision for the future of our-- America's gas stations and service stations as we hit the summer months?

PATRICK DEHAAN: Well, you know, there's been a lot of evolution at gas stations and C stores in the last 10 years. Almost every gas station now has a convenience store attached to it. And they're looking brighter and brighter. And I think that's the way that evolution has happened at the gas station. We all still call them gas stations, but almost all of them have some sort of mini mart, C store places where we can go conveniently. And you're going to continue to see a lot of evolution.

A lot of gas stations now have fresh offerings, fresh produce, milk, eggs. They are becoming more of a kind of grocery store than they are a gas station. I would expect that evolution to continue. Americans are looking for more and more convenience. We're in the age of the smartphone. And so the pivot here is while this EV transformation is happening, that gas stations are helping themselves out by making this jump in response to consumer demand for convenience.