Location, Location, Location: Choosing the Best Sites for FlexFuel Gas Stations

By: protecfuel May 21, 2023 10:33 am

Location, Location, Location: Choosing the Best Sites for FlexFuel Gas Stations


As the world continues to shift towards cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy, flex-fuel has emerged as a popular alternative fuel option. Flex-fuel, or flexible fuel, is a blend of gasoline and methanol or ethanol that can be used in vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines designed to run on more than one type of fuel. This shift towards flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) has led to a growing demand for flex-fuel gas stations. In this blog post, we will dive into the importance of selecting the best locations for these gas stations and provide an in-depth guide on the factors to consider when choosing a site.

Understanding Flex-Fuel

Before we dive into choosing the best locations for flex-fuel gas stations, let’s quickly review what flex-fuel is and why it’s essential. Flex-fuel is a blend of gasoline and either methanol or ethanol. The most common blend is E85, which consists of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.

The advantages of flex-fuel vehicles include:

  1. Reduced dependence on petroleum: Flex-fuel vehicles can run on a blend of renewable fuels, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and improving energy security.
  2. Lower greenhouse gas emissions: FFVs produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional gasoline vehicles, contributing to a cleaner environment.
  3. Cost-effectiveness: Flex-fuels are often less expensive than traditional gasoline, making them an attractive option for consumers.

Evaluating Potential Locations

When selecting a location for a flex-fuel gas station, several factors must be considered. These include:

Market research and analysis

  • Local demand for flex-fuel: Analyze the number of FFVs in the area and the potential growth of flex-fuel adoption. For example, states with large agricultural industries, such as Iowa and Illinois, have high rates of FFV adoption due to their access to ethanol production.
  • Fleet adoption and growth trends: Research local businesses and government agencies that may be transitioning their fleets to FFVs. For example, the US Postal Service has a fleet of over 200,000 vehicles, many of which have been converted to run on flex-fuel.
  • Competitor analysis: Identify existing flex-fuel gas stations in the area and assess their performance and market share. For example, Sheetz, a convenience store and gas station chain, has over 600 flex-fuel stations across the United States.

Accessibility and visibility

  • Proximity to major highways and roads: Ensure the location is easily accessible for drivers and has high traffic volume. For example, gas stations located near major highways and interstates tend to have higher traffic volume and more potential customers.
  • Signage and advertising opportunities: Choose a site with adequate space for signage to attract potential customers. For example, gas stations with prominent signage, such as LED displays, can stand out and attract more customers.

Local regulations and zoning

  • Permits and licenses required: Research local permitting and licensing requirements for constructing and operating a flex-fuel gas station. For example, some states require additional permitting and licensing for gas stations that sell alternative fuels.
  • Environmental impact assessments: Determine if an environmental impact assessment is needed for your site. For example, gas stations located in environmentally sensitive areas, such as near wetlands or wildlife preserves, may require additional environmental assessments.
  • Zoning restrictions: Ensure the site is appropriately zoned for a gas station. For example, some municipalities have zoning restrictions that limit the types of businesses that can operate in certain areas.

Infrastructure and Logistics

Constructing a flex-fuel gas station involves several infrastructure and logistical considerations:

  • Compatibility with existing gas stations: Assess if existing gas stations in the area can be retrofitted to accommodate flex-fuel pumps or if it’s more cost-effective to build a new station. For example, some gas stations may require extensive retrofitting to accommodate flex-fuel pumps, making it more cost-effective to build a new station.
  • Proximity to fuel distribution centers: Choose a location close to fuel distribution centers to reduce transportation costs and minimize fuel delivery time. For example, gas stations located near fuel distribution centers can receive fuel deliveries more quickly and at a lower cost.
  • Space requirements: Ensure the site has adequate space for fuel storage tanks, fuel dispensers, and customer amenities such as convenience stores and restrooms. For example, gas stations with larger convenience stores and more amenities, such as car washes and food service, may require more space.
Financial Considerations

Financial Considerations

Investing in a flex-fuel gas station involves several financial considerations:

  • Return on investment (ROI) analysis: Calculate the initial investment costs, operational costs (e.g., maintenance, staffing, utilities), and projected revenue to determine the potential ROI. For example, the cost of installing a flex-fuel pump can range from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the type of pump and installation requirements.
  • Financing options: Explore various financing options such as Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, grants and incentives for alternative fuel infrastructure, and private investment.
Financing OptionDescription
SBA LoansGovernment-backed loans for small businesses to start or expand operations.
Grants and IncentivesFunding programs specifically designed for alternative fuel infrastructure development.
Private InvestmentSecuring capital from private investors, such as venture capitalists or angel investors.

Marketing and Promotion

Building awareness and attracting customers to your flex-fuel gas station involves strategic marketing and promotion efforts:

  • Local partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses, fleet operators, and municipalities to promote your gas station and encourage the adoption of flex-fuel vehicles. For example, collaborating with local agriculture groups can help promote the use of ethanol and flex-fuel vehicles.
  • Targeted advertising: Utilize billboards, social media, and other advertising platforms to target potential customers in your area. For example, advertising on social media channels that promote eco-friendly lifestyles can attract potential customers who are concerned about the environment.
  • Customer education: Educate customers on the benefits of flex-fuel vehicles and how to locate flex-fuel gas stations. For example, creating educational materials that explain the benefits of flex-fuel vehicles and how to locate flex-fuel stations can help attract more customers.
  • Loyalty programs and incentives: Offer discounts for repeat customers and form partnerships with other eco-friendly businesses. For example, partnering with other businesses that promote eco-friendly products and services can help attract more customers.

Challenges and Solutions

Operating a flex-fuel gas station comes with its challenges, but with the right approach, these can be overcome:

  • Addressing the “chicken and egg” problem: Encourage the adoption of flex-fuel vehicles and support infrastructure development to increase demand for flex-fuel stations. For example, collaborating with local auto dealerships to promote the sale of FFVs can help increase demand for flex-fuel stations.
  • Overcoming consumer misconceptions: Dispelling myths about flex-fuel performance and addressing concerns about fuel availability will help attract more customers to your gas station. For example, creating educational materials that address common misconceptions about flex-fuel vehicles and fuel availability can help attract more customers.


Selecting the best locations for flex-fuel gas stations is crucial for their success. By considering factors such as market research, accessibility, local regulations, infrastructure, financial considerations, and marketing efforts, entrepreneurs and businesses can make informed decisions when investing in flex-fuel infrastructure. By supporting the growth of this alternative fuel, we can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future for our planet.

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