The New Generation of “Gas” Stations: Who Is Today’s EV Driver?


As EVs become more popular, gas stations and convenience spaces have an opportunity to create a new profit stream. In fact, when compared to the three cents per gallon you’d normally make from gas, an investment in charging stations could bring you a whole lot more.

In last month’s article, we looked at some of the major reasons electric vehicles are becoming mainstream. Today, we’re going to look at some of the ways EV drivers differ from traditional drivers and the ways to help them get more out of the charging experience.

Behaviors of Today’s EV Driver

EV adoption is picking up steam, but drivers still are in a class of their own. While not the elitist hybrid owners of yore, these drivers do have unique behaviors worth catering to.

They Communicate with other Drivers

EV drivers talk—and listen. Even as EV sales surpass 2 million in cumulative sales and approaches 10% of new car sales, the group still remains cohesive. Forums, social groups, charging station apps, and more all give EV drivers a place to communicate, give advice, and celebrate or complain about experiences.

Did an experience surprise or delight a customer? Same thing. Most gas station consumers aren’t going to relay their experience or read reviews. After all, it’s gas. But when it comes to EVs, these people are not only cohesive, they have to spend a handful of time at the store.

They’re Prepared to Take the Time Needed to Charge

People don’t buy EVs without planning around charging time. Though most charge at home and work, according to the Idaho National Laboratory’s study titled Plugged In: How Americans Charge Their Electric Vehicles, drivers still need the option to charge on the go.

That said, many aren’t looking to gas stations just yet. This is especially true for Level 2 Charging Stations that take longer to charge.  In these, people are more likely to look for a place where they’ll park for an extended period of time—shopping malls, airports and commuter lots, and downtown parking lots or garages with easy access to a variety of venues.

But with the rise of DC Fast Charging, this will become less relevant. What once took four hours now takes less than one. This creates opportunities for new charging locations. But charging is still going to take time. Luckily—and likely the reason 7-Eleven recently announced plans to become the sixth-largest EV charging provider—is that there’s money to be made.

Best of All? They’re Likely to Spend While Waiting

In a thread on electric vehicle forum Speak EV, drivers had two common complaints. First, they hate the process of finding the right station. Second, they “hate themselves” for spending more on food and drinks since buying an EV than they have in their lives.

While the first is a network issue—drivers often need a handful of apps to book and manage a charge—the other is a big opportunity for the station owner. Throughout the UK-based thread, most drivers lamented the amount they’d spend on a ‘sausage roll’, coffee, or other convenience staples while waiting.

A Winning Strategy: Providing a Place for Vehicles (and Drivers) to Recharge

Installing charging stations may cost money, but there are many benefits to doing so. From branding yourself as a green space to creating a loyal following of drivers, there are many reasons to consider installing a handful of these spaces for drivers. But the main reason? It’s the same reason you got into business—to put food on the table.

If money is the motive, EV Stations make sense. Today’s EV driver isn’t only connected to others, they’re affluent—and likely to spend. Whether it’s simply buying a coffee, buying a full meal, or something else, it’s worth giving them somewhere to shop, something to buy, and someplace memorable for guests.

Case Study: Creating a Cult Following at Wally’s (with the Help of Morgan Li)

Wally's Pontiac RV display built by custom manufacturer Morgan Li

Great Service, Tasty Food, Clean Restrooms and Unexpected Necessities. Inspired by another travel center/convenience store known for its cult following, Wally’s is home of the Great American Road Trip.

Located in Pontiac, Illinois, designers at the space wanted to create something unforgettable for travelers, and turned to custom manufacturer Morgan Li to make it happen. From their quirky, selfie-worthy centerpieces to their amazing selection of food, we worked with the Wally’s team to build a facility guests will remember.

Learn more about our work and view photos of the things we’ve built for Wally’s here.

Morgan Li: Fixtures, Furniture, and Graphics

Boutique to Bix Box, single location to multinational and everything in between, companies around the world have come to trust Morgan Li for our timely and reliable production, attention to detail, and most importantly, execution.

If you’re looking to make the most of your space, it pays to work with a manufacturer who can match your specifications, smash your expectations, and help you transform your space into something memorable. Get to know who we’ve helped, what we do, and contact us for more information.

(Photo Credit: Wally’s)


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Cash wrap and perimeter displays at Brooklinen flagship in New York City. Custom retail fixtures by Morgan Li