Reinventing Fuel Stations for an Electric Vehicle World
Here is wishing all of you a happy, healthy and safe 2023.While lot many things happened in the year 2022, the growth in the sales of electric vehicles in India was actually quite remarkable. While the overall percentage is still small (about 5%) when you take total vehicle sales into account, there is no denying that the popularity and acceptance of EVs is increasing at a far faster rate than many of us imagined.
It's time fuel stations were reinvented to cater to charging of electric vehicles. Photo by Noah Kroes on Unsplash.
But it's equally true that the expansion of the charging infrastructure has not been able to match and keep pace with the increase in sales and production of EVs. Especially on our highways.
As EVs take long to charge, they need designated parking spots. Photo by Michael Fousert.
Given this, and the fact that charging EVs takes a lot more time than filling petrol or diesel, I think it's time to reinvent the conventional fuel station as we know it. Fuel pumps have been around for well over a century, but now with the increase in EVs, they have to evolve and cater to the requirements of charging them, in a wholly unique manner.
Such conventional fuel fillers will gradually get replaced. Photo by Dawn McDonald.
By EV charging cables. Photo by Sophie Jonas.
As everyone knows, an EV user is compelled to stop and wait for a fairly long duration at a charging station, when the batteries require recharging. The question is what do you do for those few hours, when your EV is getting its electric fuel?
Conventional fuel stations have to undergo a metamorphosis. Photo by Jean Christophe Gougeon.
This is where I think Indian designers and entrepreneurs, have an opportunity to showcase their creativity and ingenuity, by coming up with truly inventive "New Age EV Charging Stations".
An efficient floor plan of the charging zone is essential. Photo by Michael Marais.
To begin with they need to make a proper floor plan and practical management system with optimized parking in the charging zone with easy entry and exit points for the vehicles. In a conventional fuel station, vehicles just pull over besides the fuel filler and drive off in a few minutes. But, EVs will have to stay parked for longer and for different periods of time, depending on the battery capacities and charging time. So there have to be multiple charging outlets placed in a scientific manner to enable different sized EVs to easily enter the charging area and park and get charged in the appropriate spot, without blocking the entry or exit path of any other vehicle.
The times, they are a-changin. Photo by Felix Varela.
This entire floor plan has to be user friendly and should be designed in a way that enhances the efficiency of the total charging process, and also makes best possible use of available space.
New age EV charging stations should have restaurants offering a wide range of food. Photo by Food Photographer.
And also specialized cafes for coffee connoisseurs. Photo by Laureen Missaire.
Now let's look at what people can do while waiting for their EVs to get charged. Two things most of us love, is eating and shopping. So the "New Age EV Charging Stations" on our highways (and where possible in the cities too), should have enough snack bars, bistros and restaurants offering everything from fast food, to gourmet meals. For connoisseurs of coffee, tea, and other such beverages, we can have specialized cafes to cater to them.
One should be able to shop for local handicrafts. Photo by Farhodjon Chinberdiev.
As well as the branded stuff. Photo by Ries Bosch.
As for shopping, there are numerous options and possibilities. It would be great if people could get local handicrafts and souvenirs, along with all the branded stuff. There can be a farmers market for fresh regional produce and also a supermarket and department store to pick up groceries, toiletries, cosmetics, garments and other such everyday use goods. A pharmacy would also be a nice addition, because presently medicines are quite difficult to find on our highways.
A local farmers market might become a big attraction. Photo by Shelley Pauls.
People might also want to stock up on groceries while their EV is being charged. Photo by Peter Bond.
A pharmacy ought to be part of an EV charging station on the highway. Photo by Mariano Baraldi.
For fitness enthusiasts, the "New Age EV Charging Stations" could provide walking and jogging tracks along with a gymnasium. For those who prefer rest and rejuvenation, there should be some spa like facilities with massages, hot showers, etc.
A spa should help rejuvenate tired travellers. Photo by Christin Hume.
Some folk might also go in for beauty treatment. Photo by Raphael Lovaski.
And hot showers on the highway, will surely be a hit. Photo by Victor Furtuna.
Silent rooms with beds, and maybe a nice lawn where people could just stretch out or laze under some trees, might also be nice, because after sitting for any length of time in a vehicle, many of us like to lie down or get horizontal. A beauty salon offering haircuts, manicures, facials, etc, will possibly draw patrons too.
A cinema theatre showing short films will provide entertainment when EVs are being charged. Photo by JB.
Keep EV to charge and go watch a movie. Photo by Myke Simon.
There should be some entertainment and recreation opportunities too. A mini-theater showing short films ought to be popular, as should a play area or games for kids. Local magicians, musicians, singers, painters and so on, can also be provided with an arena to showcase their skills.
This will gradually become an endangered species. Photo by Dawn McDonald.
And it appears electric fuel shall be the norm in the future. Photo by Ernie Journeys.
Yes, there is so much that can be done to make charging EVs on our highways (and where space permits in cities) more comfortable and convenient. Hope someone steps into this space soon and creates "Innovative and Vibrant New Age EV Charging Stations".
Some fuel pumps do have cafe's, shops, etc. But they should offer lot more to folk stopping to charge EVs. Photo by Adrian Susec.
All photos courtesy Unsplash.