Fuel retailers take rural road as EVs, CNG in urban areas – Times of India

New Delhi: Fuel retailers are betting on rural roads and highways to increase market share as electric and CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles enter urban areas amid paucity of land to set up new petrol pumps. .
Available data shows that around 88% of the 16,190 new petrol pumps have been set up by three state-run retailers – Indian oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum – were in rural areas and highways in the last three financial years.
Rural areas and highways shared almost equally the number of new petrol pumps at 7,087 and 7,232 respectively. In contrast, only 1,891, or about 12%, of the new pumps were built in urban areas by companies that control 90% of India’s fuel retail market.
private retailers like Geo-BP and Rosneft-led Nair It also opened a few outlets in the hinterland, following the trend, though their numbers were not immediately available.
There are more than 65,000 petrol pumps in the country.
Industry executives said a change in strategy is needed as the market is evolving with the spread of CNG and EVs, especially in urban areas. Moreover, rising real estate prices have made it difficult to open new petrol pumps in urban areas.
“There are few takers for petrol pumps advertised in urban areas. Land owners find shopping arcades or residential complexes more attractive than running petrol pumps on their plots due to the skyrocketing prices of real estate,” said a top marketing executive at one of the oil companies.
The second factor is expanding CNG service and EVs eating into urban petrol and diesel sales. “Such a change was seen for the first time in Delhi-NCR when CNG arrived. Now a large number of outlets also have CNG dispensers. Soon, they will offer battery charging or swapping facilities as EVs are expanding, especially in the two-wheeler segment,” he said.
Rural areas and highways present an attractive market opportunity due to increasing intercity passenger and freight traffic against the backdrop of rapid development of highways and expressways, strong agricultural sector performance and easy land availability.
“A farmer has to travel 10-20 km from his village to a petrol pump to burn fuel to fill barrels for his tractor or other farm machines. Same is the case with a car or a motorcycle. We want to deliver fuel at their doorstep. This is a market waiting to be tapped,” said the executive.

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