A picture of a petrol station against a sunny sky

How will petrol stations change as we move to electric vehicles?

Petrol stations have been a part of the landscape for almost as long as there have been cars on the roads – the first one was opened in Berkshire by the AA way back in 1919.

However, with the increase in electric and hybrid cars in a bid to make the country greener, fewer people are likely to need petrol and diesel going forward. So, what will this mean for Britain’s infrastructure of refuelling stations? Let’s take a look.

The rapid expansion of EVs

Electric vehicles (EVs) are currently enjoying a boom in take-up rates. Analysts estimate there are more than 200,000 currently on Britain’s roads, with at least a million expected to be in use by the end of 2022.

Worldwide, the International Energy Agency suggests this could equate to 300 to 400 million EVs out of two billion total vehicles by 2040.

In the UK, this take-up is partly being driven by the government’s policy to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, even though there is not yet a timeline for the suspension of fuel sales.

However, for many people, a major stumbling block in changing from combustion engines to EVs has been range and the ability to top up mid-journey. No-one wants to be caught out without power on a longer trip, so some have opted to wait rather than taking the plunge.

This could be set to change, though, as a new network of refuelling stations evolves to offer customers not only recharging options, but also a lifestyle hub fit for the 21st century.

A new breed of refuelling station

Today, data from Zap-Map shows there are 8,471 charging locations for EVs across the UK. In contrast, the number of petrol stations has dwindled to 8,400, demonstrating the rapid roll-out of the necessary technology to top up greener vehicles.

Co-founder of Zap-Map Ben Lane said: “The public and private sectors are now investing heavily in the UK’s EV charging infrastructure to ensure that there are sufficient charging points to support the growing electric fleet.”

Indeed, the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill introduced in 2017 made it mandatory for motorway services and large fuel forecourts to install EV charge points. This came after the European Parliament said there should be at least one charger for every ten cars on the road if EVs are to become a viable alternative to traditional cars.

Since a cluster of two or more charging points is essentially a refuelling station, many providers have been making the decision to provide dedicated facilities for EVs that could shape the future of our vehicle-based technology infrastructure.

After all, since most drivers are familiar with stopping at a petrol station and refilling, the act of stopping at an electric hub for a battery top-up isn’t too much of a stretch for the imagination. And with motorways offering the combination of longer journeys and the need to stop to stretch the legs, many of these EV hubs are likely to be alongside such major routes as an alternative to traditional service stations.

Major providers changing their offerings

A number of major brands in the transport industry have already been making headway in terms of offering EV charging fuel stations. For example, Shell aims to have 200 Shell Recharge points on its existing forecourts by the end of 2021.

However, in 2020 it said it has even loftier ambitions than this. The brand revealed it wants to see true energy hubs going forward, where drivers are directed into EV charging bays and offered airport-like facilities featuring coffee shops, parcel collection points and meeting rooms while they wait.

“We call it Project Evelyn – an energy hub where you can recharge yourself and recharge your car,” said Shell’s Bernie Williamson.

This vision of the future forecourt being far more than just somewhere to charge up is shared by BP Chargemaster, which also recently unveiled its plans to partner with Marks & Spencer to provide retail facilities alongside its charging points.

Meanwhile, Nissan has opened the first of its planned 100 EV-only service areas in Essex, offering users shops, cafes, meeting room pods and a wellbeing area to make the most of while they wait.

How will EV charging fuel stations work?

A picture of an electric car with its cable plugged in

Electric car charging times are clearly longer than the time it takes to fill up a traditional car with petrol or diesel, but drivers will still need to recharge and go before too many hours have passed.

Refuelling stations will therefore typically offer power points to provide:

  • Fast charging – three to four hours
  • Rapid charging – 30 to 60 minutes
  • Wireless charging – not available in the UK yet, but being pioneered in Europe for future use without cables

In terms of payment, it is likely that most dedicated hubs will eventually offer a ‘payment by subscription’ model similar to the way an ‘all in one’ fuel card works for fleet drivers today. Users may drive up to a power point and swipe a card to select a charging option and pay.

Although the cost to charge an electric car will undoubtedly be more at a hub than it would at home, drivers will undoubtedly be willing to pay for the convenience – a rapid charge is likely to cost more, yet get them back on the road again in less than an hour.

Going forward, the government has called for all new rapid chargers to incorporate contactless payment, so it’s likely that charging sessions will be managed via apps before too long.

Interestingly, after so many years using traditional forecourts, it may be that it’s the etiquette drivers need to adjust to, including:

  • Moving vehicles as soon as batteries are full
  • Not unplugging other vehicles
  • Stowing cables safely after use to prevent trip hazards

What about rural forecourts?

It’s easy to see this being the end for old garages in rural locations, as they’re usually far from motorways and therefore not somewhere drivers would need to stop mid-journey.

However, spokesperson for the Irish Petrol Retailers Association David Blevings told the Irish Times this needn’t be the case. He pointed out that most petrol stations don’t rely solely on fuel income and could therefore be in a good position to provide the experience-led forecourt necessary going forward.

What’s more, rural refuelling hubs could be essential for customers who don’t have off-road driveways and to manage demand for the power grid.

The future?

EV technology is still developing and both governments and power providers will undoubtedly have kinks and issues to iron out before these forecourts of the future can truly come to fruition. However, as more people embrace the green revolution, it’s becoming increasingly likely that they will become science fact rather than science fiction in the not-too-distant future.

 

Allstar adds 110 charging points to the EV network

In a recent deal with Gronn Kontakt, Allstar have secured an additional 47 charging sites to their network. These sites add 110 charging points to Allstar’s multi-branded network.

Gronn Konakt, an electric vehicle charging company, are owned by Statkraft. This is Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy and is owned by the Norwegian state.

For customers of the Allstar One Electric card, this deal is great news. They now have access to these 110 charging points. This is the 8th network of charging sites to be added to their network. Users of this card now have access to over 1500 locations in the UK with 3700 individual charging points.

The Allstar One Electric card includes the benefits received by customers of the Allstar One card. Customers are not only given a way to pay for the use of charging stations, but are also given access to Allstar’s massive multi-branded network of fuelling stations with savings on diesel.

Why do we need more electric charging points?

These additional charging sites are a response to the government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol or diesel cars and vans in 2030.  The ban is part of a 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” set out by the UK Prime Minister.

Along with a shift towards nuclear power and the development of towns heated entirely by “low carbon” hydrogen, the government hopes to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles and invest in electric charging infrastructure.

Therefore, over the next few years, businesses will be making the transition to a fleet of electric vehicles. The Prime Minister has said that some hybrid vehicle will still be permitted for development, which is an attractive option for HGV users who might be concerned that an electric vehicle can’t match the power of a vehicle that uses diesel, for example.

Allstar have stated that 30% of their customers have already switched to electric vehicles in their fleet. A further 65% of their customers plan to make the transition over the next 3 years.

With so many electric vehicles being introduced to the road, we can expect to see more charging stations in the near future.

Electric vehicle charging cable connected to electric car

Reducing charge point and range anxiety

These extra charging sites will greatly reduce anxieties regarding electric vehicles.

Users of electric vehicles have often expressed concerns about running out of charge during transit. Research also shows that electric vehicle users are now more anxious about being unable to find a point to charge their vehicle.

These anxieties have been putting fleet owners off the idea of transitioning to electric vehicles. Different vehicles also require different connectors when charging. Because of this, fleet owners who desire convenience would much prefer to stick with fuel powered vehicles until a universal charging method is commonplace.

However, adding more sites to the UK’s network of charging points means drivers have less cause for worry. They will have more options as to where they can charge their vehicle and are less likely to run out of power.

Once a fleet owner is convinced that their drivers will have access to enough charging points, and charging is as convenient as filling up a tank at fuel pump, they will be much more likely to transition to electric vehicles.

How can you prepare for the 2030 ban?

Over the next decade, you can expect to see a huge increase in electric vehicles on the road. Since the government plans to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles, electric vehicles are the inevitable future. It’s worth considering how your fleet can adopt the use of electric vehicles.

If you’d like to know what you can do to prepare for this transition, get in touch with our team. We’re happy to help.

We often overlook the key characteristic of the rainforest: rainfall

Earth’s rainforests receive high levels of rainfall each year, often up to 400 inches compared with less than 40 in the UK. A great deal of this rainfall comes from the fact that rainforest is often self-watering. Through transpiration, plants release water into the local atmosphere. This creates a dense cloud cover that you see hanging over rainforest canopy. Even when it’s not raining, these clouds keep the rainforest ecosystem humid and warm. It’s this immense heat and humidity that has meant a vast range of animals and plants have adapted to this specific climate over the years.

At the global level, rainforests drive the flow of water as rain. They are the centre of the water cycle, circulating water vapour and feeding rivers that eventually take water back to the oceans. Evaporation from the oceans is seeded by organic dust and particles created by the trees themselves. It is a remarkable system, working simultaneously at microscopic and planetary levels, full of intricacies and interdependencies.

But this means that as rainforests shrink, droughts increase, both locally and around the world. Evidence is already showing that forest loss in the tropics is already affecting crop growth worldwide. At the local level, despite the huge volume of water found in and produced by rainforest, access to the right amount of water is becoming more problematic for local people.

There are increasing reports of rivers turned gold from mining waste in the Amazon, palm plantations polluting coastal waters in Papua New Guinea and sea-level rise flooding crops and causing havoc on sanitation systems. It’s why your support is so vital, both locally and globally. You’re keeping rainforest standing at the heart of the water cycle, by supporting local communities with access to good quality water and to cope with the effects of deforestation and climate breakdown.

In recent years, your investment provided fresh-water storage tanks and flood-resistant toilets to reduce local pollution in Papua New Guinea, tippy-taps to provide safe handwashing and fish ponds to avoid fishing in rivers with mining pollution. All alongside helping develop sustainable incomes that work with the forest, help people earn a living and reduce pressure on their forest. Healthy families mean healthy forest, and that often starts with something easy to take for granted; water.

It’s why keeping rainforest standing is not only vital for those who call rainforest home but for us all, to ensure Earth’s systems that we all rely on are kept in balance. The support Cool Earth receives is not only protecting forest, it’s also helping address the increasing challenges of getting good, clean water in the right places for local people.

Fuel card services are working with Cool Earth to mitigate global carbon emissions by preserving the most threatened rainforests. Get in touch now to find out more about what we’re doing to help.

The importance of fleet duty of care

All UK companies have a legal obligation to ensure their employees don’t suffer any unreasonable or preventable harm or loss in the workplace. This is known as duty of care.

Employers can be found liable is an employee or a member of the public is harmed or incurs loss as a result of negligence. Therefore, it is vital that all fleet operators carry out the relevant safety checks on owned vehicle to make sure that they’re safe to use.

It’s important to note that if a vehicle is owned by a company, it is considered a place of work, so healthy and safety rules apply just as they would within an office, warehouse or any other workplace. According to the department of transport, over a quarter of road traffic accidents may involve someone who is driving as part of their work obligations.

When it comes to road safety, much of the legal responsibility is on the driver. That’s why it is up to you to ensure your vehicle is safe, well maintained, insured and that it is being driven in a safe manner. An employee caught driving recklessly is responsible for any offence that comes as result.

However, employers also shoulder some of the responsibility for their employees’ actions. For example, employers are liable for the death or injury of an employee or injury of an employee caused by another employee through negligence.

Additionally, both parties may be found liable if a driver is caught speeding as a result of impractical employer scheduling.

What this means for fleets

For fleet operators, it’s important to acknowledge that company owned vehicles are considered the workplace, and that you have an obligation to ensure those vehicles are correctly insured and are safe to drive. It’s also important that you set up ‘safe systems of work’ procedures to assess and minimise the work-related risks and hazards your drivers could face.

As a fleet manager, there are three areas of risk management you should focus on in order to comply with duty of care:

Vehicle

All company-owned vehicles should be suitable for the job at hand and should meet the driver’s needs. Security is also a priority, not just for the driver, but for all road users. Regular maintenance checks and inspections are essential for maintaining the highest possible standards.

Driver

Before employing a new driver, ensure they are properly vetted and that appropriate checks are done on their licence. Make sure that they’re given a thorough induction to the fleet procedures and policies, especially for accident reporting.

Journey

Setting realistic journey targets for your drivers is an important part of safeguarding their welfare. Properly planning their journey reduces the likelihood of speeding or driver fatigue, while also improving the moral of your employees and reducing the risk of work-related ill health.

Tackling your duty of care obligations

There are a number of ways that a company can tackle professional duty of care when it comes to their drivers; from carrying out continuing education through risk assessments and in-vehicle driver training, to classroom based training courses, e-training and documentation.

While drivers should perform daily checks on their vehicles before each journey, companies should also carry out safety checks on vehicles themselves. This is to ensure that they are serviced and maintained regularly.

Every aspect of this process should be recorded in internal management systems and procedures to ensure that, in the event of an incident or accident, there is a clearly defined and identifiable audit trail available.

Duty of care and grey fleet management

Many companies still allow employees, especially those that do not qualify for a company car, to use their own vehicle on company business and reclaim a mileage allowance.

Such vehicles are typically referred to as ‘grey fleet’ vehicles, this is because although they are not company owned, the company does have a professional duty of care towards them and could still be liable for any accidents or incidents in which the drivers of grey fleet vehicles are involved.

Research has shown that grey fleet vehicles are usually older than company-owned vehicles. In addition, they might not have been serviced as regularly and the condition of the tyres may be in generally poorer condition. Moreover, drivers in many instances might only have social, domestic and pleasure insurance, rather than the necessary cover for business use.

But, if anything happens while such a car is in use on company business, it is the company, as well as the employee driving the vehicle, who can be held liable.

It is certainly in the company’s best interest to ensure its employees only use grey fleet vehicles that are fit for purpose and are regularly serviced, as there is a whole raft of legislation under which a company could be found to be negligible.

At Fuel Card Services, we offer a range of fleet management services that can help you fulfil your duty of care for your fleet. Get in touch today to find out more.

How to use Shell rewards

If you’re looking for a good fuel card for your business, there are many things to think about. As well as the savings you expect to achieve on petrol and diesel and the convenience of the network, another factor may be the extra goodies and discounts that are available.

The UK’s major fuel brands all offer some form of loyalty scheme. And for Shell rewards, this is called Go+. This provides a range of benefits to fuel buyers across the brand’s network. As Shell’s range of fuel cards offer access to one of the UK’s biggest fuel networks – with the cards being accepted at almost half of the UK’s filling stations – this is something many firms should consider.

What are Shell rewards?

Shell’s Go+ scheme provides benefits every time you fill up at a Shell forecourt, or spend money at an attached shop. It’s been around since 2019 and is available on the Shell mobile app or with a physical card or key fob.

The rewards programme also offers you discounts on fuel after a certain number of visits, as well as a range of exclusive freebies to say thanks for being a customer.

You can earn Shell rewards every time you make a purchase at participating Shell stations, whether you’re using a fuel card or not. Drivers simply need to sign up via the Shell Android or iOS app, or register online to receive a Go+ card or key fob.

Michael Hominick, Shell’s UK marketing manager, described the Go+ scheme as a “pioneering and leading rewards programme” that gives back to drivers no matter how much they spend.

He said: “The more you spend as a customer, the more you save. And because the two things are so nicely linked together, the value exchange grows. If customers buy into both the fuel and the shop, they really see the maximum potential of the savings in the programme.”

How does the loyalty scheme work?

Unlike many other reward schemes you might be familiar with, you don’t earn points with Shell Go+. Instead, each time you complete a Shell transaction, you’ll earn a ‘visit’. Collect ten visits and you’ll get a discount voucher to spend on fuel.

To count as a visit, you’ll need to spend a minimum of £10 on petrol or diesel, or at least £2 inside the shop. However, the more you spend, the bigger the discount you could receive once you’ve completed ten visits.

The rewards aren’t just limited to once every ten visits. You can also enjoy discounts on a range of items in-store every time you fill up, as well as savings on Shell’s premium V-Power fuel.

Costa coffee and takeaway cup

What’s more, you can enjoy a range of surprise freebies. Mr Hominick said: “Shell Go+ is not just a transactional relationship, but a fun and engaging relationship with the content we send out about what we’re up to and getting customers to get access to movie premieres or money can’t buy prizes.”

What benefits are available?

In addition to vouchers to be earned every ten visits, the Go+ fuel card reward scheme offers a range of discounts on items at Shell stations such as food, drink and car care products. You can take advantage of these every time you fill up.

These benefits include ten per cent discounts on the following items:

  • Hot drinks, including those from Costa Express
  • Deli2go food
  • Jamie Oliver Deli by Shell food
  • Shell Helix motor oil
  • Shell car or jet washes

What’s more, if you’re filling your vehicle with premium fuel, you can enjoy even more discounts. Users of Go+ reward cards can also get an extra £3 fuel reward for every 300 litres of Shell V-Power they buy. Of course, premium fuel won’t be useful for every driver, but if it benefits your car, this can offer another advantage.

You can also get additional benefits if you’re a Shell Energy customer. If you get your energy or broadband through the firm, you can also enjoy an additional three per cent off fuel at participating forecourts, up to a maximum of 60 litres per month. This is in addition to all the other Shell Go+ rewards, which are all still available.

Close-up of smartphone with petrol pumps in the background

How to use Shell rewards

The easiest way to take advantage of these rewards is to use the Shell app. All you have to do is load up the app and scan the barcode with it when you pay, and your discounts will be applied and your visit added.

Within the app, you can also gain access to your exclusive rewards.

However, if you’d prefer not to use a smartphone, there are alternatives available. By registering on the website, you can request a Shell Go+ card or key fob, which will be delivered to your home, usually within two weeks. You can also still access freebies and other officers through the brand’s website.

Choosing the right fuel card for your needs

In order to take full advantage of the rewards on offer, it also pays to use a Shell fuel card. We have a few options available from this brand, depending on your usage needs. These are:

  • Shell One – This offers fixed weekly prices for diesel and petrol, with access to nearly 50 per cent of UK forecourts. You can also enjoy up to 10p per litre discounts on diesel at motorway sites.
  • Shell Multifuel – For fleets needing the widest coverage, this pump-price diesel and petrol fuel card is accepted at more than 3,800 sites nationwide.
  • Shell CRT – Ideal for fleets running HGVs and LCVs, this fixed weekly price diesel-only card offers even bigger savings at hundreds of HGV-friendly core sites.

If you’re unsure about which fuel card is best for your business, get in touch with our team today. They’ll be happy to help with friendly, impartial advice on what options will be best for your business’ unique needs.