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EVolving the network

Shell is planning to be the first fuel retailer in the UK to take out traditional fuels from an operating service station and replace them with an electric vehicle-only charging hub. An application for planning permission for the development on the company's site in Fulham, west London, was made at the end of October, with the hope and expectation that the hub would be operational by the middle of next year. The announcement was made as Shell celebrated the installation of its 50th UK EV (electric vehicle) charging point, and the installation of the first 150kW post on a service station. It also followed an announcement a week earlier about Shell's 'carbon neutral' programme, giving drivers the chance to offset their carbon dioxide emissions free of charge when they buy fuel at its UK service stations using the Go+ card. The scheme went live on October 17 and will cost the oil major £10m over the next 12 months. Bernie Williamson, Shell UK Retail's general manager, said she was "super excited and proud" with the milestones that have been achieved so far as well as the company's plans going forward. "This is about us thriving through the energy transition. We're looking at the next evolution and the needs of our customers in the broader sense. We're doing nature-based solutions, giving motorists the opportunity to do something about their carbon footprint as we continue to invest and ramp up long-term solutions of electric vehicle charge posts for those people when they're ready to move to EV transportation. We're ideally placed for that we have a fantastic network where over 75% of the population are within 15 minutes of a Shell service station."

Speeding ahead

Sales of electric cars in the UK are currently minuscule compared with their internal combustion engine (ICE) cousins, but the country's biggest-selling car maker is gearing up for a rapid change in this state of affairs. At the Frankfurt Motor Show last month, Ford announced that it expects the majority of its sales will be electrified by the end of 2022. This will require a major shake-up in the UK car market because in the year to August battery and hybrid cars achieved a combined market share of 7.5%, up from 6% for the same period a year ago. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were the star performers up 93.1%, from 9,009 units to 17,393, and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) performed strongly up 20.2% from 50,739 units to 60,989, but demand for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) collapsed earlier this year after the government removed tax incentives, and their sales were down 37% from 27,918 units to 17,594. These figures are dwarfed, however, by the 994,941 petrol engine cars sold over the same period, up 2.4% on a year ago and with a market share of 65.5%, and diesel sales of 410,012, down 19.3% after well-publicised problems but still taking a 27% market share.

A moving target?

In July 2017, when the government published its long-awaited clean air strategy and its Road to Zero transport policy, its confirmation that it would ban sales of conventional internal combustion engine cars and vans by 2040 met with very little opposition. Just the fact that it had set a firm cut-off date for sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans was enough to satisfy most environmentalists, while vehicle manufacturers and fuel companies agreed that 2040 gave them enough time to adapt.

We should be 'celling' the future

A future where battery- powered and hybrid vehicles are superseded by vehicles running on hydrogen fuel cells was predicted by Jon Hunt, manager, alternative fuels, at Toyota. Speaking at a conference organised by the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum, he explained why the company that produced the world's first mass-produced, battery-powered car, and hybrid, was now working towards a future where hydrogen fuel cells become the predominant technology.

Emission impossible

Government indecision over the introduction of E10 a blend of fuel with up to 10% ethanol content compared with the current limit of 5% in E5 is nothing new. It was just after the London Olympics in 2012 when the then Transport Minister Norman Baker wrote to industry associations to tell them the government had changed its mind on E10. It had been expected to give the go ahead towards the end of that year, but after many consumers rejected the new fuel when it was introduced in Germany, the government decided it was too soon because it was not compatible with an estimated 20% of cars on UK roads.

C-store growth rate set to soar

New market analysis by HIM, revealed by insight director Gareth Nash, predicts that the growth rate in the convenience sector in 2019 will accelerate, with overall turnover up 3.5% to £41.7bn, compared with a growth rate of 2.7% last year. He said the growth rate had been slowing slightly over the past three years, with competition from the discounters, rising business costs and declining tobacco sales all having an impact. But this year the sector is set for a "strong growth rate" well ahead of the grocery market average.

Fuelling the future

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of automotive hydrogen development, with countries such as China, Korea and Japan pushing ahead at a rapid rate, according to Charles Purkess, business development manager at ITM Power. He was part of the 'Fuelling the Future: On the Road to Zero' session chaired by TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Willson, at last month's Forecourt Show. The packed event featured PRA chairman Brian Madderson; BP Chargemaster CEO Dave Newton; TSG UK's business development director of EV Solutions, Michelle Machesney; and petroleum manager of the London Fire Brigade, Clare Scawthorn.

Last throw of the dice

When the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its damning provisional findings on the proposed merger between Sainsbury's and Asda on February 20, many commentators thought the deal was dead.

A year of upheaval

This year has seen massive upheaval in the Top 50 Indies listing, compared with 2018 when not only were the Top 10 companies all the same companies as the previous year, but they were all in the same order too. Not least among the changes is that, for the first time in its existence, the Top 50 is not headed by MRH. It was swallowed up by MFG last year, making the combined organisation well over twice the size of its nearest rival and taking top spot for the first time.

Evading the issue

When a Parliamentary Committee of MPs announced last year that it was launching an inquiry into the hand car wash sector it appeared that a long campaign was finally paying off. For years the PRA and its sister organisation, the Car Wash Association (CWA), have been highlighting the explosion in the numbers of rogue operators, and calling for action by the authorities. By paying no taxes, using slave labour and ignoring pollution regulations, these operators were able to undercut legitimate car washes, driving many of them out of the sector.

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 4 November 2019
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East130.9367.90138.13126.75
East Midlands130.73139.73126.64
London130.73139.60127.04
North East129.5562.90137.10125.31
North West129.9963.90138.40126.48
Northern Ireland128.05133.57124.33
Scotland130.6059.30137.24126.23
South East131.4566.90139.66127.42
South West130.7674.90137.94126.68
Wales129.84136.06125.42
West Midlands130.4059.90137.63126.57
Yorkshire & Humber130.02139.47126.29

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When a major car manufacturer like Ford predicts that sales of its electrified cars will outnumber petrol and diesel models by 2022, does that ring alarm bells about the possible speed of change for forecourts?

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