SourceLine News & Insights

Will 2026 Usher in a New Era?

There’s quite a bit of talk about the impact electric-powered cars will have on conventional fueling. Could the electric-powered car eliminate the gas station in 10 years? With fuel purchases remaining consumers’ primary reason for stopping at C-stores, and purchases inside C-stores driving profitability, it’s a question that is influencing fuel marketers’ investment strategies. With that in mind, here are some concepts in which gas stations could remain a fixture for some time to come:

Stop and Swap: The movement to “go electric” has been challenged by the electric car’s inability to go long distances on a charge, the lack of charging stations and the time it takes to re-charge the car. What if, instead of creating charging stations, the fuel centers of 2026 invited drivers to swap a plug-in electrical battery unit – similar to how we exchange empty propane canisters today?

Tunnel Vision: Perhaps the future of fueling will resemble a car wash: pull up to a bay, queue your car on a track system, exit the car and authorize payment through a thumbprint at a kiosk. While your car is fed through the bay’s automated re-fueling or wireless recharging system, you can walk over to the adjacent store and shop for convenience goods (which are charged to the same tab started by your thumbprint.)

Trash Talkin’: In “Back to the Future II,” a reactor that converts garbage into energy powers the time-traveling DeLorean. Although automotive-sized reactors are still more science fiction than reality at this point, large-scale facilities that convert biogas produced by decomposing trash into hydrogen could create a whole new fuel network. Perhaps one day we’ll be dropping off garbage at refueling stations and receive a credit for our trash to fuel up with a biomass fuel.

For more insights into the next era of fueling, watch Fuel Marketer News for Source’s next “Fueled for Thought” column.