9 May 2018

Applegreen 'hedging bets' on powertrains direction

Plug-in hybrids will become a 'more likely' scenario in the medium future than all-electric vehicles, according to the thinking at forecourts giant Applegreen, writes Brian Byrne.

The company's Head of Commercial Fuels, Daire Nolan, told the recent Electronomous Car Tech Summit 2018 — organised by Cartell.ie — that a consensus of opinion from global analysts suggests that it will be 2030 before there's a real increase in battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

"Changes have started, though we're hedging our bets," he admitted. "We certainly see EVs as part of the future, and hydrogen is there too as shown by Toyota." He added that liquified natural gas is a direction for freight vehicles.

"Our strategy is based around the customer and what they want," he continued, saying also that there is likely to be an urban/rural divide on which powertrains are favoured. "We are prepared for market demand, and we'll see what consumer shifts happen. We are keen to be able to respond to whatever happens."

In business terms, he noted that Applegreen is primarily a food and services company 'who will continue to sell energy if the customer requires it'. And while 'significant changes' are on the horizon, the company believes that forecourts will remain 'fundamental' in the transport eco-system.

"Currently, 65pc of our transactions are non-fuel, and less than 30pc of our profit comes from fuel." He also noted that — though traffic and population have both increased — motor fuel sales in the country contracted by 1pc last year, probably due to greater automotive efficiencies than anything else.