The rapid emergence of electric cars is going to transform the role of the “petrol station” in our towns and villages, or anywhere we go to “fill up”.
In January 2020, 19% of vehicle registrations were for electric vehicles and alternatively fuelled vehicles, and this has risen to 38% in January this year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The race to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and the resulting need to accelerate the expansion of the electric vehicle charging network, is causing traditional service station operators to explore the opportunities presented or contemplate the risks of carrying on with business as usual.
It can still take a motorist an hour to charge a vehicle and so it is highly unlikely that drivers will just go for this purpose. These forecourts will need to provide additional services including seating for eating snacks, entertainment and wi-fi connection.
It will also mean that there will need to be additional space to accommodate many more vehicles. On the outskirts of Braintree, a service station exclusively for electric vehicles has space for 36 such vehicles to charge simultaneously.
The petrol station on Ascot High Street is owned by EG Group, which has nearly 400 sites in the UK and is currently in the last throes of acquiring Asda. The Group has established partnerships with Greggs, Costa and Starbucks, so that its sites become destinations for drivers, even if they did not need to fill up on petrol or diesel.
Accommodating the energy needs of electric vehicles will entail providing additional services and this will require more space for hospitality and vehicles. For EG Group, with the constraints of the site, this may persuade it to look elsewhere.
This would allow the High Street to be opened as a boulevard for its length as was envisaged in the Vision for Ascot, produced in consultation with residents by the Prince’s Foundation and featured in its Report for the Rejuvenation of Ascot.
The Prince’s Foundation Report – TPF-Ascot-Centre-Final-Report.pdf (ascotandthesunningsnp.com)