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Parkland is designing their EV charging network as an extension of their existing businesses, which are already part of consumers’ preferences and habits.


It may take longer to charge an electric vehicle (EV) than to refuel a conventional one. However, the extra time needed for that pit stop no longer has to seem like a chore, but rather a chance to shop, eat or work.

“EV drivers have different needs compared to the traditional combustion-engine drivers,” said Darren Smart, senior vice president, Energy Transition and Corporate Development at Calgary-based Parkland, an international convenience and fuel retailer.

“What used to be a five-minute stop to fill the tank with gas will become a 20 to 30-minute visit,” said Mr. Smart. “This gives us an opportunity to reimagine retail stations and give our customers the freedom to not only recharge their vehicles, but also recharge themselves.”

Parkland is taking the lead in building a charging experience that is purposely designed for EV drivers. This will include quality food, recreational and shopping options, entertainment, Wi-Fi, playgrounds for kids, seating areas, clean bathrooms, and outdoor space to stretch their legs.

“We are creating an experience customers seek out and destinations where they want to spend time”, said Ian White, senior vice president, Strategic Marketing and Innovation at Parkland. “Our goal is to help drivers make the most of every stop.”

In the coming years, EV charging will be co-located in Parkland’s existing retail sites, which include an On the Run convenience store connected to its Pioneer, Ultramar and Chevron brands. This reflects emerging customer demand and the weighting of conventional vehicles compared to EVs. “As EV adoption grows, we have set our sights on a futuristic EV-only retail concept,” added Mr. White.

Earlier this year, Parkland sponsored an international competition run by Electric Autonomy Canada (EAC) to envision the electric charging station of the future. The winning entry, submitted by Scotland-based architect James Silvester, focused on delivering an unparalleled customer experience.

Nino Di Cara, president of EAC, said Canada is poised to have one of the most innovative models, and that Parkland’s offering will be “unique in the world of EV charging stations.”

Mr. Smart notes that most existing EV charging stations are less than desirable, located in parking lots, off to the side of the road or in difficult-to-find and inconvenient locations. “EV drivers are forgotten customers,” said Mr. Smart. “They often have to recharge in locations that are not staffed, where there are little or no amenities.”

Even in the most advanced markets in the world, a driver never knows what they’ll get when they arrive at a charging station. Parkland executives saw that when they were in London and Norway to conduct market research on EV charging.

“We experienced first-hand that often the charging ports don’t work when you get there”, added Mr. Smart. “Range anxiety for EV drivers is real. Planning your journey around known charger locations, to find out they’re not operational when you arrive, is unacceptable. We are being thoughtful about how we can lead this emerging industry and have looked at stations from the lens of the customer.”

Parkland has already unveiled plans to roll out a network of ultrafast EV-charging stations across B.C. and sees this as the first step into an emerging market. “B.C. leads the way in EV adoption in Canada, so we’re focusing our initial efforts there, to serve tangible customer demand,” said Mr. Smart.

The stations will deliver an 80 per cent charge in about 20 minutes. Parkland plans to expand geographically as demand for EVs picks up, with Quebec and Ontario as the next potential markets.

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EV adoption will accelerate

Mr. Di Cara notes that while we’re still at the early stage of EV adoption, rates will increase steadily as Canada transitions toward zero-emission transportation. Right now, transportation accounts for about one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and almost half of that total comes from passenger cars and light trucks.

Federal targets mandate that 20 per cent of all new vehicles sold must be electric by 2026, increasing to 60 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035. To support anticipated demand, Canada will need approximately 200,000 publicly accessible chargers by 2030, according to a recent government-sponsored study.

Mr. Smart said that Parkland’s EV charging network will be a natural extension of their existing business. “We’ve been powering our customers’ journeys and staying one step ahead of their needs for over 50 years,” said Mr. Smart. “Our existing retail network is strategically located and is already a part of our customers’ habits, which positions us to meet their enroute charging needs.”

The company has built a strong foundation of capabilities and trusted brands including On the Run convenience stores, M&M Food Market and the digital Journie rewards program.

By offering M&M Food Market products and evaluating the introduction of a freshly prepared M&M food option in its On the Run network, Parkland aims to offer customers greater quality and choice for dine in, take out and take home meals.

“Across our ultrafast EV charging network, customers will be able to enjoy fresh, healthy and quick-serve food options as they lengthen their refueling stops”, said Mr. White.

Parkland will also strengthen its connection to customers through Journie rewards, which is already among Canada’s largest loyalty programs.

“Journie enables us to reward our customers with fuel discounts, bespoke promotions and M&M offers,” said Mr. White. “In the future, we will offer even greater personalization, value and frictionless payment options. Plus, for our EV customers, we will offer the ability to start, stop and monitor their charging session, plan their route and make charger reservations. We are laser-focused on delivering a world-class experience for our customers.”

Electric Vehicles by the numbers

Current worldwide sales:
6.6 million in 2021

Projected worldwide sales:
20.6 million by 2025

Price of an average EV in the No.1 segment in Canada (compact SUV):

Average EV sales rate across Canada:
7.5 per cent (July 2022)

Highest provincial EV sales rates:
B.C. 16 per cent, Quebec 11 per cent, Ontario 6 per cent (July 2022)

Federal targets for EV sales:
20 per cent of all new vehicle sales must be electric by 2026, 60 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035.

Total EV rebates (Federal plus Provincial) available by province/territory:
Quebec ($12,000), New Brunswick ($10,000), PEI ($10,000), Yukon ($10,000), B.C. ($8,000), Nova Scotia ($8,000), Newfoundland & Labrador ($7,500), all other provinces/territories ($5,000)

Claimed driving range on a full battery:
From 160 to more than 800 kilometres, but most are around 400 to 500 kilometres.

Recharging time:
80 per cent in about 30 minutes, using accelerated charging mode

Canada’s best-selling EV:
Tesla Model 3 (2021)

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Parkland Fuel Corporation. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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