Many of Australia’s fuel outlets are nearing the end of their useful life and decisions are being made to renew these assets. Given the relatively long life of new fuel retail outlets, a question arises about how these outlets should be designed to accommodate likely continuing change in fuel retail practices, customer expectations, changing vehicle technologies, communications systems and logistics. In an effort to answer this question, ACAPMA sought opinions from a noted Futurist about likely near term changes in our industry and then asked Cadway to develop a future fuel retail concept that could accommodate these changes. The outcome provides some real food for thought about the future shape of fuel retail in Australia.

Many of Australia’s 6400 fuel retail outlets were designed in the golden age of the motor vehicle, when family holidays involved loading up the Holden Kingswood and driving to the coast. The most exciting development in communications was the fax machine and scientific calculators were the latest thing in computing technology for school students.

A lot has changed since that time and our industry has been required to change with it. Our fuel retail sites have transitioned from businesses that sold fuel and repaired cars to modern facilities that now combined fuel retail and convenience stores.

Many organisations are now in the process of rebuilding their fuel retail sites – many of which are more than 50 years old.

But what should we be building to ensure that these sites remain relevant to the market in the future? Is it just a case of introducing cafes and the like on modern forecourts or do we need to prepare for more fundamental change?

In a presentation at the recent ACAPMA National Conference, Mike McAllum of the Global Foresight Network sounded a warning to our industry. The world has changed and we need to either change with it or be changed by it.

Mike pointed to the fact that the world has already changed and that emerging trends such as decreased car ownership amongst young people, the introduction of car share schemes, global concerns about environmental issues, the introduction of driverless vehicles and projected growth in electric vehicles are all factors that will force our industry to rethink the way we do business.

In order to ensure that our industry remains relevant in the future, we need to at least be aware of these issues and make considered business decision about whether we should be adapting our infrastructure accordingly.

As we all know in business, nothing is certain and there may be many in our industry that believe the current models are sufficient for the needs of the future. But we wouldn’t be doing our job as an industry association if we didn’t at least ask the question about whether our fuel retail businesses are positioned for the future, said ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie.

So we listened to what Mike McAllum had to say and then asked Wayne Lamb of Cadway Projects and his team to show us how these trends might be accommodated in a fuel retail outlet in the future.

“The exercise was similar to the development of concept cars that are exhibited at a motor show. These are prototypes designed to showcase ideas – as opposed to being a product that will be rolled out in the short term”, said Mark.

The future concept developed by Cadway is challenging to say the least, you can view the video here.

“The whole exercise was very useful and suggests that there are genuine opportunities for our industry to take advantage of current and future trends in a way that allows us to redefine our role in servicing the personal transport and convenience needs of consumers in the future”, said Mark

Further information about this work can be obtained by contacting the ACAPMA Secretariat on 1300 160 270.