Next gold rush: Electric vehicle charging stations
Tesla was ahead of its time when they bet on a proprietary Supercharger network. Now, public EV charging infrastructure is popping up all over the globe. Even McDonald's is getting in on the action. Gas stations are starting to see the writing on the wall. A few are even converting gas pumps to EV chargers.
Above: Tesla Model 3 charging outside a Kohl's (Source: PlugShare)
But in Marketwatch, Tesla Model 3 owner, Vitaly Katsenelson, argues that gas stations aren't really the right location for EV chargers as it takes longer to "fill up" a battery. Besides, most just charge at home. But home charging won't be enough — longer road trips will require new charging infrastructure to provide added convenience for EV drivers.
Katsenelson writes, "My prediction: At some point there will be a charging-station mini-bubble as companies raise capital and do a land grab. Grocery stores will use charging stations to attract customers. Charging stations will be in all parking lots, from restaurants to office buildings. Electric vehicle (EV) charging will be a gold rush, while gas stations will be just another relic of a bygone age, like phone booths and cassette tapes."
Above: Forwarding-looking companies like IKEA are installing EV charging points outside its stores (YouTube: KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas)
It's worth comparing this transition to what happened more than a century ago, when gas-powered cars replaced horses. Katsenelson says, "At first, people wondered how they would 'feed' those cars (grass was more plentiful than gasoline), whether they would have decent roads to actually drive anywhere, and whether cars would be crashing into pedestrians and each other. The shift from horses to cars required a completely new paradigm."
"The domain of horses came with an ecosystem that was simply not applicable when we switched to cars. Even though both performed the same function — horses got people and goods from point A to point B — the automobile was fundamentally different, and so was its ecosystem," notes Katsenelson.
Above: Whole Foods is also installing EV charging in its parking lots (Source: EVgo)
So what does all this mean for the future of gas stations? Katsenelson concludes, "I imagine the 110,000 U.S. gas stations that keep ICE cars humming along today will look like a rounding error next to the millions of electric 'filling stations' that one day will be located in home garages and public parking lots."