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EMBARGOED-Canadian convenience store operator Parkland rolls out EV charging network in B.C.

·2 min read

By Allison Lampert

June 21 (Reuters) - Parkland Corp said on Monday it will open up to 100 ultra-fast electric vehicle charging ports in British Columbia by 2022, creating the largest network in the province by site count, up from just a handful in Canada today.

Calgary-based Parkland, Canada's second largest convenience store operator, said it will invest C$10 million $8.09 million) in the network at about 25 existing retail sites from Vancouver Island to Calgary.

"What we can offer our customers is charge points every 100 to 150 kilometres (93.2 miles) along major routes," Parkland chief executive Bob Espey told Reuters.

Most sites will incorporate a restaurant and convenience store for customer use during the estimated 20 minutes it will take their vehicles to charge, generating additional revenue.

Oil companies and convenience store operators are betting on higher profits in the EV era from sales of groceries and snacks at retail networks, which are expected to remain an essential port of call for motorists.

"The opportunity here is the average energy sale will go from 90 seconds to 20 minutes," Espey said. "With that dwell time, we'll expect that not only can we charge for the energy but people will be spending more time at our sites."

British Columbia had almost 55,000 zero emissions vehicles as of December 2020 and was a North American leader in ZEV purchases in North America last year, with new sales averaging 9.4%, according to a provincial government report.

Espey said future rollouts of EV chargers would depend on how many of the cars are sold, which varies across Canada.

While EV usage remains comparatively low in North America, convenience store operators must adapt as those numbers grow, analysts say.

"When you go from 7% to 15%, those are a lot of vehicles you can no longer rely on," said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

Larger rival Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc has a vast network of charging ports in countries like Norway and plans a rollout in Canada and the United States.

The sale of electric cars overtook those powered by petrol, diesel and hybrid engines in Norway in 2020.

Parkland does not operate in Europe. ($1 = 1.2358 Canadian dollars) (Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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