Could the day of the single fuel "gas station" be fading away as we keep moving toward a multi fuel or multiple energy source transportation system? Would you go out of your way to fill up with ethanol if a station was nearby and your vehicle could handle it? How about biodiesel or hydrogen or battery packs?
Charles Martin who owns Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas, the nation's largest Chevy dealer located close to Dallas, got a little tired of selling all of these flex fuel capable cars and trucks when his customers had nowhere to fill them with anything other than gasoline. Frustration led to action and he opened his own filling station at the dealership where you can fill up with gasoline or E-85 or biodiesel. This is not a new idea, other similar stations have opened here and there before but it's not surprising it's taking a while.
There's no one company providing any of these fuels with a good reason to promote or fund a filling station with anything else besides what they offer.
"The reason why you haven't seen a greater number of E-85 pumps is that customers aren't knocking our doors down to get it," said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association.
Well, of course not. A lot of consumers aren't even sure whose doors they should be knocking on to get other fuels, it's like telling your cable company they should be offering satellite dishes. They don't want to, it's not what they do, ... although they might be smart if they did. Recently, there have been more oil companies running commercials about what they're doing with alternative energy, BP is one and Chevron is another, but in relation to what they invest in oil production, it's still pretty small and that, too, makes business sense for them.
This Chevy dealer is doing what makes the most sense for him, making the fuel available for the vehicles he sells because he has a stake in the process and it's exactly those people, along with the rest of us who drive or ride the vehicles using these multiple energy sources, who are more likely to do this instead of the usual companies who have opened gas stations over the years.
"We need to accelerate the rate at which these fuels are available, and if you look at real estate in a different way, the possibilities are limitless," said Mary Beth Stanek, GM's director of environment and energy. The Detroit automaker, like other manufacturers, is building more so-called FlexFuel vehicles that can take both E-85 ethanol and gasoline.
Stanek sees a future not only with gas stations, but with stores that give themselves titles such as "energy hub" or "green retailer." Consumers would go there to plug in, fuel up or recharge.
It's a great idea, and whether you're a gearhead or green power guy, this sort of multi fuel "energy station" might be the wave of the very near future.