Parkland Corporation is leveraging its vast network of retail locations and gas stations to launch electric vehicle charging stations in British Columbia.
The company’s strategy involves the rollout of 25 ultra-fast electric vehicle charging locations by the end of this year in BC and the launch in a few years of its Electric Charging Destination of the Future.
Darren Smart, SVP Energy Transition and Corporate Development of Parkland, said the company is a customer-focused organization, making sure it is serving and meeting the needs of the consumer.
“As we thought about the electric vehicle charging opportunity, one of the things that we’ve observed is that so far the charging industry hasn’t done a great job of thinking about the EV charging customer,” said Smart.
“And some of the research that’s out there, that EV charging customer feels like they’re a bit of an afterthought. That chargers aren’t in convenient locations. Sometimes they’re off in the corner of an existing retail site or they’re in a parking lot somewhere in behind a motel. So it’s not a very interesting experience for an EV charging customer that needs to spend 20 or 30 minutes charging.”
The ultra-fast electric vehicle chargers will be co-located with ON the RUN branded convenience stores and Triple O’s restaurants on high-traffic routes through British Columbia and into Calgary. This network is expected to be complete in the second half of this year.
“One of the important parts of building out a charging network and alleviating range anxiety amongst EV drivers is having an enroute network – so that is fast charging on major highways that help people when they need to charge before they get to their destination when they’re on a longer road trip. It helps them ensure that they feel comfortable that they can charge along the way,” said Smart.
“And in the province of BC we have a great highway network of retail stations already that we can leverage and that’s what we’re planning to do. These are going to be ultra-fast chargers that will allow customers to charge from an empty to call it an 80 per cent charge within 20 or 30 minutes. It allows people to get on their way quickly but importantly for us it does allow us to offer those customers a number of our other convenience offerings.”
There will be about 50 chargers across those 25 charging sites.
Recently, the company also announced it plans to build the ‘Electric Charging Destination of the Future’ and set a new standard for EV charging and customer experience. Parkland developed its initial architectural concept by sponsoring an international design competition operated by Electric Autonomy Canada, a leading news platform focused on electric and autonomous vehicle technologies.
“Consistent with our energy transition and convenience destination strategy, our goal in sponsoring this competition was to engage talented architects and designers from around the world, invite them to put the needs of EV customers first, and entirely reimagine their experience,” said Smart. “We are committed to bringing the winning concept to life as part of our ambitious EV charging strategy in British Columbia and believe the concept could be extended to our other geographies when we see opportunity to meet emerging customer demand.
“As we thought about that customer need that’s not being met, one of the very exciting things about the design competition was to get rid of the architectural barriers and pre-conceived notions out there about what a refueling site looks like and start from the ground up and think about it from the customers’ perspective.”
Smart said the competition accelerated Parkland’s path down the road of coming up with new charging concepts and now the next stage of planning and making it more of a reality can begin.
“This is something we can see being in place in 24 or 36 months,” he said.
“We’re going to start in the province of BC where we see the greatest level of EV adoption amongst consumers and that’s a core part of our EV strategy which is go where we’re seeing adoption and that adoption is going to vary very significantly across regions. We have other regions that are going to be much slower. But BC is one of the highest penetration rates in North America. So that’s where we’ll start and we’ll start with one and we’ll learn a lot through that process. But there will be market demand for these sorts of EV-only charging sites for sure.
“We would think about a site like this as very much being part of our network and we think about our network broadly as being a convenience destination for customers where they are looking for their energy whether that’s a conventional fuel or power there and re-charge their electric vehicle as well as to get convenience type products or food.”
Recently, Parkland announced it was acquiring M&M Food Market. Currently, M&M Express is in 140 Parkland locations.
In Canada, Parkland has 1,994 retail company and dealer sites, 632 in the US and 655 internationally.
Parkland sees a long runway of growth opportunity with M&M. Currently, Parkland has about 350 ON the RUN flagship convenience stores and is on track to grow that to 1,000 over the next few years with M&M playing a key role and contributing to that growth and being part of these new stores with great opportunity in Parkland’s US and international business.