Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Driving in France - where to fill up?

Curiously, although the number of cars on the road in France has doubled, the number of filling stations to serve them has dropped from 14,700 in 1975 to 11,270 in 2016 - and reducing as more independant garages are forced to close due to low margins on petrol and diesel sales, and - I suspect - the rise in lease/purchase deals on new cars offered by the manufactueres which include service and maintenance.

Particularly hard hit are car owners searching for a filling station in town - try filling-up in central Paris or any other large/medium sized city? - and remote villages where the local garage has closed due to lack of business or retirement of its owner.

Some small communes have started offering a solution by establishing and operating a 'community filling station' including provision for hybrid/electric vehicles, which is owned by the mairie. Car owners in some cases have had to drive 20 kms or further just to fill-up and make sure they always had a full tank.

Filling stations are owned either by the petrol companies or retail chains, more or less in esual proportion. While charging points for hybrid/electric vehicles are owned by a range of opeators including EDF and other operators. Sme are attached to existing filling stations, others are independant, though total numbers are difficult to estimate but some put the figure as high as 10,000 (outlets? individual charging points?), but what is clear is that this market is growing - rapidly.

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