Soon, it could be much easier for electric car drivers to recharge. Tesla is in talks with Sheetz, a chain that operates hundreds of gas stations and convenience stores in six states, about putting Tesla charging stations at Sheetz locations, a Sheetz exec confirms to the Washington Post. The Post says the move, if it comes to pass, "could help redefine the gas station as we know it." As US drivers use less gasoline—by 2035, the amount is expected to drop 20% from today's levels—gas stations need to figure out a way to survive, and installing charging stations offers a path forward. Sheetz locations, which are mostly in the mid-Atlantic region, are higher-end than gas stations that simply offer gas and perhaps a small kiosk selling food and drinks, and the Post speculates that smaller gas stations will need to become more like that in order to survive.
"Those kiosks that just sell gallons and smokes are going to have to change," says a convenience store industry expert. "They're going to lose gallons. Plain and simple, no way around it." Currently, charging stations hurt gas stations because charging takes so long, which means fewer customers can be accommodated and thus fewer customers are buying snacks from the station each day. In the future, an expert says, expect the typical gas station to look more like a rest stop or even a restaurant. People will stay there longer while charging their vehicles, but the stations can make more money by selling higher-end food and drinks. Tesla did not specifically confirm its discussions with Sheetz, but it did acknowledge that it is working toward installing its chargers at gas stations, hotels, and restaurants across the country. (Read more electric vehicles stories.)