How should petroleum marketers think about electric vehicles and their impact?

As the number of electric vehicles on the road begins to climb, gas station operators need to begin thinking about how they will keep consumers who have long filled up their gasoline engines on their lots.  For petroleum marketers looking to be early movers, the lack of mass adoption of electric vehicles, combined with differing charging products available in the market, make it difficult to come up with a clear strategy.  

Zach Pastko, Senior Consultant at W. Capra Consulting Group, shared, “There is need to connect gas station owners with the forward-thinking companies focused on building the electric vehicle infrastructure.  Those who are proactive and plan will be better positioned than those who are forced to react to a mandate from the government or general market movement.  It may not be as sudden as what we saw with the need to enable mobile ordering due to COVID-19, but I think there are a number of parallels.”

Answer questions and think holistically

Electric vehicle charging requires thinking holistically about how it fits in the grand scheme of your technical roadmap and consumer engagement plans.  “Installing EV charging is not as simple as it was to replace a map rack with an ATM,” Pastko posited.  “Navigating the real estate, utility, and operational needs are just a few of the major considerations, especially for sites where space is at a premium.”

Pastko held that, “For the moment, there is still time before [installing charging stations] becomes a market requirement or license-to-operate scenario.  This is an opportunity to spend time thinking about your operating model, how to best reach your target consumer, and how to integrate new technology into your current roadmap.”

Leader, follower, or challenger?

As with other innovation-based changes that come to market, there are many paths to adoption.  Electric vehicle charging capabilities, implementation, and surrounding marketing integrations and decisions offer a chance for petroleum marketers to take a stance in how and when they pursue these offerings.  “I may sound like a broken record, but being proactive, thoughtful, and intentional in planning will always serve to retain control over how you allocate your resources and budget.  Going through a workshop now to determine how you want to think about electric vehicle charging will help execute longer-term plans,” Pastko added.

Zach Pastko is dedicated to assisting W. Capra clients with thinking through Electric Vehicle considerations and Petroleum Program Design/Operations.

For further discussion, contact Zach Pastko at zpastko@wcapra.com.

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