Once upon a time, America was covered with stagecoach stops, Pony Express corrals, and telegraph offices. The onward march of technology has rendered most of them little more than interesting relics. As the electric car revolution moves forward, another iconic sight in America — the gas station — will either adapt or disappear.
Anticipating this trend, Go Architect has created the Gas Station Of The Future Design Competition. While the number of gas stations may be declining, there are still more than 130,000 of them all across America. Many of them stand on highly valuable parcels of land on busy street corners, in shopping areas, and along major transportation routes.
Go Architect is not interested in tearing them all down. Instead, it wants to know how an existing gas station can be repurposed to meet the needs of electric car drivers and autonomous fleet operators in the future. “What will it become as drivers begin charging their cars at home, work, and the grocery store? How may they adapt to a shifting landscape of autonomous vehicles and an on-demand culture? The electric car revolution is here and it’s up to us to pave the way for the future,” Go Architect says.
There is an entry fee of $34.99 for professionals and $14.99 for students. First prize is $1,000 and there will be a People’s Choice award worth $500. Submissions are due by December 1, 2019 and people will be able to view the submissions and vote on them through the end of December. Winners will be announced on January 1, 2020.
First All Electric Gas Station Conversion Opens In Maryland
Depeswar Doley has owned a gas station in Takoma Park, Maryland since 1997. He has seen the writing on the wall when it comes to the electric car revolution. He didn’t wait for any design competition. Urged on by his teenage daughter, he recently removed all the gas pumps and tanks from his location and installed electric car chargers instead, making his the first gas station in America to make the transition to chargers instead of pumps.
“You notice there are not too many electric vehicles on the road,” he said. “So it’s not something that I expect to become rich overnight or something like that, but it’s a good cause [and] good for the environment,” Doley tells CNBC.
When he first mentioned the idea, a colleague suggested he contact the Electric Vehicle Institute. It’s a good thing he did. The gas station conversion was jointly funded by the Electric Vehicle Institute and the Maryland Energy Administration, which provided a grant of $786,000. Yanking old gasoline and diesel storage tanks out of the ground and dealing with the contaminated soil from the inevitable leaks doesn’t come cheap.
Electric Vehicle Institute CEO Matthew Wade says the Takoma Park area didn’t have enough EV chargers to meet the demand. There are more than 20,000 electric cars registered in Maryland. The city had just two chargers, one in a community center parking lot and the other at an on-street location. There is also a local taxi company that uses electric cars exclusively.
“They were fully utilized throughout the day; people were lining up,” Wade says. “The city was happy they were being used, but then they said, ‘Wait, no one can get in this parking lot because these taxis are using these chargers.’”
The newly redesigned former gas station will feature four chargers that connect to a 200 kW electrical feed. That means up to four vehicles can charge simultaneously and reach an 80% battery charge in 20 to 30 minutes. Drivers can go inside and sit in an automated convenience store with video screens that allow drivers to track their vehicle’s charging progress.
“Maryland is proud to be a national leader when it comes to clean and renewable energy, climate change and the promotion of electric infrastructure and vehicles,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in a release. “This fully converted gas-to-electric charging station is a prime example of our administration’s commitment to the environment and transportation.”
EVI’s Matthew Wade sees the station as a net positive for the community. “Everyone gets behind it; it’s really neat,” he says. “It’s one of the few spaces out there that is not so divisive, and it gets people really excited.”
Some of you may remember having to explain to your kids that when you were young, you had to wait for radios and televisions to warm up because they used…vacuum tubes! Soon parents may find their children and grandchildren asking “What’s a gas pump?” What a glorious thing that will be.