By Jack Anderson, haL2 Project Coordinator
On December 1, 1913, Gulf Refining Company opened a new type of retail store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed expressly for the purpose of selling gasoline as a fuel for motorists, the kiosk-like building was also the first architect-designed fueling station and the first to distribute free road maps to drivers. The use of pumps and meters was also introduced at this station, earning it the first use of the term "gas station." On its first day of business, the station dispensed 30 gallons of “Good Gulf Gasoline,” selling it at a price of 27 cents per gallon with net sales of $8.10 for opening day.
Before Gulf Oil “upped the ante” with this purpose-built gas station, filling stations were simply curbside locations where “tins” of gasoline were poured into the customer’s automobile. Standard Oil of California claims the second filling station in America was in Seattle at what is now Pier 32. It was a curbside operation and opened in 1907. With just 500,000 automobiles on the (mostly) dirt and gravel roads of America in 1913, demand for gasoline was still relatively low. From these humble beginnings, an entire industry was spawned, and by the end of the decade filling stations and curbside gasoline pumps dot the landscape, providing convenience for the growing population of automobiles sold each year. Today, approximately 153,000 gas stations smug the landscape.
So why, you ask, am I writing about gas stations? Simply to point out the fact that internal combustion engine vehicles gained traction (pun intended) with the introduction of the Ford Model T in 1908 and it was five years until there were enough cars to warrant a purpose built gas station. Even then the Gulf Oil and Refining Company was putting capital into what it forecast to be an emerging market.
In 2015 we know that hosting an electric car charger will not “make money” by selling electricity because the density of users is not there. There are other benefits, including some secondary financial rewards like hotel rooms booked, meals sold and merchandise purchased because there was a charger at or near the location. I believe that over the next five years the demand for charging opportunities in our communities will propel the evolution of pay for use EVSE stations. What do you think?