Rethinking America's Gas Station

Propel Fuels; Clean Mobility Center puts renewable fuels front and center.

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Studies show consumers are increas­ingly driving alternative-fuel-capa­ble vehicles, embracing renewable fuels and seeking more sustainable means of transportation.

Nearly half of the vehicles on the showrooms of America’s big three automakers can run on something besides gasoline. Despite this evolution in driver behavior, gas stations haven’t evolved much in the past 50 years. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, although nearly 20 million Americans drive cars that can accept alternative fuels, only 2% of the nearly 150,000 U.S. gas stations sell them.

At Propel, we see a huge opportunity to provide consumers with a new experi­ence in fueling that matches their values and provides more choice, all while help­ing our nation’s economy and protecting our environment.

As we look at trends in modern transportation, the facts are apparent: Petroleum sales are falling, public-transit ridership is up, bike lanes are expanding, and purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles is on the rise. In response to these trends, we set out to redefine the American gas station with the launch of our first Clean Mobility Center (CMC) in Fullerton, Calif.

Our Clean Mobility Centers take fuel­ing and consumer transportation in a distinctly different direction through the introduction of alternative fuels such as E85 Flex Fuel, biodiesel and soon CNG and electric-vehicle charging, alongside the conventional gasoline that most driv­ers use today.

With a focus on clean mobility, Pro­pel’s CMCs are becoming an important tool in the fight for cleaner air. In fact, our first CMC is on track to eliminate more than 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide in its first year of operation.

Driving Change

While increasing access for alterna­tive-fuel-vehicle drivers is paramount, our Clean Mobility Center approach enables every consumer, and every vehicle, to drive change in the fuel marketplace.

Our new station model provides a highly visible platform to introduce the benefits of renewable fuels to a main­stream driver base alongside conventional options in some of the most underserved renewable-fuel markets. Also, through our CarbonOffset program, for the first time in the nation, drivers can offset carbon emissions from their fuel purchase right at the pump by directly funding clean air projects through our partnership with the Carbonfund.org Foundation.

Our clean image transcends the way we “fuel” cars. Our new stations also use green design and sustainability practices that promote cleaner transportation in the communities we serve. Starting in Fuller­ton, each Clean Mobility Center provides free air, which makes it easy for drivers to increase fuel efficiency by keeping tires properly inflated; education centers offer­ing information on local public transit and ride-share options; bicycle tuning centers; recycling stations at the pump; and, in the near future, emerging fuel types such as natural gas and electric vehicle charging.

We will continue to work with the very best current and next-generation fuel suppliers to bring responsible, high-performance renewable fuels into all our fuel blends sold across our network. Last fall we partnered with Solazyme, a renew­able oil and bioproducts company, to offer the nation’s first consumer access to algae-based biofuels during a pilot program at several of our California stations.

Making It Easy

For both our consumers and retail part­ners, we try to make the Clean Mobility Center as user-friendly as possible. Pro­pel stations accept all the major credit and debit cards—Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover—as well as fleet options, including the Propel CleanDrive Fleet Card, Fuelman, Wright Express and Voyager.

And our CleanDrive card does some­thing pretty unique: It lets customers track emissions reductions by entering a loyalty number at the pump, and accounts can be monitored online and via mobile.

With the early success of our fore­court model, we’ve been asked about the backcourt—whether Propel would embrace the c-store business. Currently, the Clean Mobility Center approach focuses on clean transportation options in the forecourt. However, we are look­ing to extend our approach into a com­plementary c-store experience sometime in the future.

For the short term, though, we are focused on our Clean Mobility Centers, through which consumers for the time in history can vote with their wallets and choose a fuel company that better aligns with their values and interests.

No matter what type of car you drive, consumers can use our new stations and learn about cleaner mobility options along the way. We now have more than 30 fueling stations in our growing network throughout California and Washington State. But with more than 200 stations planned for new and existing markets over the next few years, keep your eyes peeled for the gas station of the future coming to a corner near you.

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