What Will Happen to Petrol Stations in 2040?

In a world becoming more and more green, it's only natural to wonder, 'what will happen to petrol stations in 2040?'. Following the latest Government announcement that all new HGVs sold in the UK need to be zero emission by 2040, coupled with the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2030, the future of petrol stations may look uncertain. However, to understand the future of petrol pumps, we must take a look at the Government's announcements and consider the demands of electric vehicles and consumers.

The Government's Announcement

Originally, when first announced in 2017, the date on banning new sales of petrol and diesel cars and small vans was 2040, as part of the Government's net-zero strategy. However, the Government has since decided to bring the ban forward to 2030, and by 2035, hybrid cars need to have a "significant" zero-emission range.

The latest announcement is specifically aimed at HGVs, stating that new HGVs sold in the UK must be zero-emission by 2040. It's important to remember that these bans are only for new vehicles being registered following the relevant dates; therefore, drivers can still drive a petrol or diesel vehicle after these dates.

As more studies have been done and climate change has become better understood, many countries have implemented policies to reduce pollution on a national or international scale, with fuel and alternative sources being put under the spotlight.

The Future of Petrol Stations

Electric and hybrid vehicles have a smaller market share than petrol and diesel, with hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles accounting for over 10% of car registrations in the United Kingdom in 2020.

Although this is predicted to grow rapidly each year, petrol stations are still very much a necessity for the majority of the UK. In addition, the Government hasn't banned the use of diesel and petrol vehicles altogether, just those newly registered after those dates; therefore, there will still be a need for petrol stations for years following the ban. Furthermore, hybrid vehicles will still need to refuel with petrol at some point, regardless of how long their 'significant' zero-emission range is by 2035.

It's undeniable that the future of petrol pumps means that the number of petrol stations will become smaller, with fewer vehicles needing to refuel in the same way. This means that when it comes to the future of petrol pumps, adaptability is key, with other services to consider as offerings, such as car washes, food convenience shops, and takeout coffee and food services within petrol stations. Fuel isn't the only reason many customers visit petrol stations, particularly on motorways when people are doing long journeys. During the Coronavirus pandemic, many customers in remote locations relied heavily on these extra services for everyday amenities. So, making changes and offering multiple services is key for petrol stations looking to the future.

You may have seen numerous electric charging hubs for cars in people's drives, using the power supply from the house to charge the vehicle overnight for a cheap rate. However, this process is currently deemed quite slow, with approximately 30 miles gained for every hour charged, and when you're on a long journey, you'll almost certainly have to stop and re-charge your car. Hence, having an electric charging station and petrol and diesel pumps seems to be the new norm for most petrol stations.

This is what most stations will need to move towards in the future, with the Government claiming that by 2023 there will be a high-powered charging hub at every motorway service area, showing the demand for electric charging at motorway and key A road services is needed sooner than 2030.

Will the UK energy grid be able to cope with the increase needed for electric vehicle charging?

When discussing the future of petrol stations, it's important also to discuss the amount of energy needed from the UK energy grid to meet the ever-increasing demand for electricity, and whether charge points in petrol stations will be able to be used successfully.

The short answer is yes. Due to the installation of solar panels and energy efficiency improvements that have been made, the nation's demand for electricity peaked in 2002 and has roughly fallen by 16% since then. The National Grid predict that demand would increase by 10% should the whole of the UK switch to electric overnight; therefore the UK would remain below the demand from the peak in 2002.

So, what will happen to petrol stations in 2040? The answer is that no one really knows what the future of petrol pumps looks like. However, we know that the rise in electric vehicles doesn't mean the death of diesel and petrol. Petrol stations are still very much needed and will still be needed after 2040. They may look different in years to come, emphasising electric charge points and additional services, but that doesn't mean that we're saying goodbye to petrol and diesel as we say hello to a more sustainable fuel source for vehicles, whether that be EVs or hybrids.

To find out more on how to navigate going greener as a fuel-dependent business, please look at our dedicated blog post on the topic. Or, please feel free to contact us for more information.


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