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Trends Watch: What Declining Gas Consumption Means for Your Truckstop

Posted in: Fuel and Trucking, Biodiesel

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/// Guest post by contributor Renewable Energy Group

Where do you see your fuel operations heading in 10 years, 20 years — how about 32 years? That may seem like a long way out, but with the ever-changing transportation sector, forward-thinking truck stops and travel plazas are looking that far ahead now.

And what they’re finding is the future of gasoline is uncertain. That may be putting it nicely. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that motor gasoline consumption will decrease 31 percent between 2017 and 2050. Why? The main culprit is increasing fuel economy standards.

So how should you react? Think of it this way: What would a 31 percent drop in gasoline sales mean for your business? Also, what would it mean for your in-store sales if traffic at your pumps dropped significantly?

Growing demand
One way retailers are responding is by adding diesel to their fuel lineup. Over that same 2017 to 2050 timeframe, the EIA projects diesel consumption to remain steady. Yes, diesel vehicles will also become more fuel efficient in the coming decades, but the EIA says there will also be rising demand for freight truck travel. 

Of course, most truck stops and travel plazas already sell diesel fuel. So one way operators are trying to differentiate themselves from the competition is by adding diesel alternatives like biodiesel and renewable diesel. Interest in the renewable fuels is being driven by a desire to reduce air pollution and, for biodiesel in particular, the potential to help retailers improve their fuel margins and in-store sales.

With biodiesel blends, it’s also a matter of meeting demand from trucking fleets. A new Fleet Purchasing Outlook study by NTEA, the Association for the Work Truck Industry, found that biodiesel was the most popular alternative fuel among fleets in 2018 and the top pick for future interest.

Growth opportunity
NATSO also recognizes the potential of renewable fuels for its members. That’s one reason NATSO launched the Alternative Fuels Council earlier this summer.

“The alternative fuels market is an important growth opportunity for many fuel retailers nationwide,” NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings said in a press release announcing the effort.

All of this adds up to opportunity for fuel retailers. With demand for diesel projected to remain strong for the next three decades, the fuel could offer a way to offset some of the losses from lower gasoline sales and keep people coming to your pumps — and inside your stores. And biodiesel can enhance those benefits even more. 

Renewable Energy Group. REG is a leading North American advanced biofuels producer and developer of renewable chemicals. REG utilizes a nationwide production, distribution and logistics system as part of an integrated value chain model to focus on converting natural fats, oils and greases into advanced biofuels and converting diverse feedstocks into renewable chemicals. Learn more about Renewable Energy Group.

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About the Author

Troy Shoen

Troy Shoen

Troy Shoen has been an expert in marketing various aspects of the advanced biofuels industry for the past seven years. For six years he managed marketing efforts for a biofuels feedstock and animal feed ingredient company before joining Renewable Energy Group as Senior Manager, Marketing in July 2015.

He currently leads the efforts to promote the economic and value-added benefits of integrating biodiesel into distributor and retailer fuel programs.  

Troy holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Iowa in addition to Bachelor Degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies.