Charging vs. pumping: What will happen to NJ gas attendants?
That big push is coming. Soon, having new gas-powered vehicles in New Jersey will be illegal.
The year 2035 is the target, although I personally doubt that'll remain the case as we get closer. And there are a few reasons why I believe that.
For one, the technology just doesn't seem to be where it needs to be regarding fully electric cars. As the past summer heatwaves throughout the country showed, those car batteries have a harder time holding up when temperatures reach extremely high levels.
Car batteries are also quite heavy, adding a lot more weight to a vehicle that otherwise wouldn't exist with a gas-powered engine. The technology still has a way to go in order to get to that optimal level.
Speaking of optimal level, is our power grid prepared to handle that additional charging load? At the moment it's more of a debate on that one, but you get the point.
It's not that I'm against clean energy, far from it. I would actually love to see us go fully green at some point down the road.
But I'm also realistic when I say we're simply not ready for that yet. 2035 just seems too soon for the battery technology to get where it needs to be and for the infrastructure to be ready to handle that increased electricity load.
We'll leave it at that for now regarding all of this happening by 2035. At the moment, our target year remains in place and we need to prepare for it.
Today, gas-powered vehicles still dominate the roads in New Jersey, and that will most likely remain the case in the near future. That also means gas stations have nothing to worry about for now as they'll still be needed to serve drivers in The Garden State.
As most of us know, New Jersey is unique when it comes to our gas pumps since we're the only state in the nation where pumping your own gas is illegal. And, despite any push to get self-serve in our state, a majority of residents don't want that.
Part of the reason is because they simply don't want to get out of their car when fuelling up. It's something that's now a specialty service when filling up in New Jersey to have someone else handle it for you.
However, that's not the only reason. New Jersey residents also want those jobs available for those who need them.
And in an ever-increasing automated world, it's nice to know that at least here in The Garden State those jobs will be available. Or, will they?
Even though New Jerseyans want full service at the pump, what will that mean when electric vehicles take over? Will those jobs simply disappear?
At the moment it's too soon to know. But if I had to make a bet, I'd say those jobs would remain, and here's why.
We like the convenience
One of the reasons we like having full-service now is the convenience. We like to be able to stay inside our cars while the car gets re-fueled.
And being we like it that way (hence the reason self-serve is still illegal), we'd probably want that convenience to continue. It's not that we're lazy, we just don't see the need to do the job if someone else is there to do it for us.
Of course, we wouldn't be able to use the excuse of spilling gas all over ourselves anymore, but we can still take advantage of staying dry and comfortable.
No rain or extreme temperatures for us. Just let someone else plug that car in and we'll keep our butts firmly in our seats.
We like the employment
Another one of the better reasons New Jersey likes to have full service. It ensures employment throughout the Great Garden State.
More likely than not, this would be a reason to keep those jobs alive. Let those jobs be available for people who want or need them.
What's more, those jobs can remain while this transition to more electric and less gas takes place. It'll make it more seamless for us, the customer.
It'll ensure future business
Both the convenience of the service provided and the employment opportunities are two of the big reasons why this would ensure future business for existing gas stations.
Sure, the job would look a little different, but what job doesn't change over time? Technology is always advancing, and jobs will adapt to that forward momentum.
As long as existing stations continue to serve their customers, those customers will continue to come even after the pumps are gone and replaced with a plug.
The technology will get there... eventually
In my opinion, I don't think this will happen by 2035. Now could I be wrong about that? Absolutely.
But regardless of the timeline, it will happen eventually. And when it does, our existing stations need to be ready for that change.
Cars will be able to get quick charges eventually, and New Jerseyans will still want that full service that they're accustomed to now. Especially when we get to five-minute charges or sooner and no longer need hours for a charge-up.
Hopefully, that'll be what happens to gas attendants in the future of charging stations. Let's just hope gas stations don't go out of business like some are predicting.
Self-serve gas: The pro's and con's of serving ourselves in NJ
The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.