Petrol Evolution

Development of the Fuel - Petrol

Gone are the days when there were used to be nearly 20 million horses and merely 5,000 cars in the USA. This was the situation back in 1900, more than a century ago. Times have dramatically changed since then. In the 1890, the invention of vehicle meant for meeting consistent need of fuel that had to be met at all costs. Oil industry had been limited in making kerosene oil as a source of fuel in lamps because electric lighting was not common at that time. Gasoline (referred to petrol and diesel oil in today's world) usually got wasted from the fabrication process and ended up at different stores and chemists. People having earlier possession of motor cars used to visit chemists, pharmacies and kerosene refineries to fill up this waste by-product for their vehicles. Such method put people at high risk of gasoline catching fire.

The concept of petrol pumps, also known as service stations, gas pumps, gas stations, petrol stations etc. was hardly to be seen or thought of by anyone. The real need for gasoline was witnessed just before World War I, when hundreds and thousands of vehicles blocked roads and caused traffic jams for hours in search of fuel oil. That was the time when manually operated browser petrol pumps got introduced to quickly meet the ever rising demand of motorists. Since the concept was new and quite amazing to the wealthiest of those times, these Kerbside stations were considered to be ugly constructed with lack of proper planning at just about any place.

World's oldest service stations:

In 1905, around 25,000 cars and vehicles had hit the road making it difficult to fill up tanks by the traditional method of buying gasoline in gallons. As a result, the first ever petrol pump was constructed at 413 South Theresa Avenue at Saint Louis, Missouri in 1905. This was operated by a peasant named Henry Laessing who is also credited with founding the world's first oil retailing company by the name of Automobile Gasoline Company. The second pump was constructed two years later by the then Chevron (Standard Oil of California) at Pier 32, Seattle Washington. By 1910, the number of cars hitting the road doubled from 1905, at 50,000.
The world's first ever trip conducted in a fuel powered vehicle:

Prior to the construction of petrol pump in 1905, there were places that used to sell fuel oil for motorists. As a result the world's oldest and first place to sell petrol was at a city pharmacy in the town of Wiesloch, Germany. Bertha Benz is credited with the world' first ever trip in a vehicle run on gasoline from Mannheim to Pforzheim in 1888. Exactly 120 years after her first trip, the entire route was named in her honor, as Bertha Benz Memorial Route.
Meeting the oil demand:

Those garages that used to sell different brands of petrol onsite tried to put up as many service stations as they could to gain profits, but this resulted in worsening conditions of disorder caused most of the times by motorists. Legislation had been passed after 1928 directing fuel station owners to put in cleaner and much more efficient stations to fuel up motorists' vehicles. At that time manually operated hand pumps were used. However as technology progressed, hand pumps were replaced by electrical & mechanical pumps to further ease the process of fueling up on stations.

The early 1900s petrol development:

As motorists felt the rising need of fuel oil, the oil industry quickly became conscious regarding the significance of selling oil under various registered brands & trademarks. The US government broke the Standard Oil Company into various small companies, giving rise to new competitors selling fuel at cheaper rates. In 1914, a whole team of trained individuals and staff at any of the 34 company operated stations across the US could be seen to fuel up customers' tanks, checking for pressure in tires and cleaning front and back windshield. The concept changed from merely selling oil to fulfilling customer requirements. At the forecourt, small general stores and shops also started to be seen where motorists could munch on their favorite snacks and buy liquor on their routine trips. This started to bring in convenience at almost all of the fuel stations operated by Standard Oil Company in the US.

Oil industry in the UK:

In the UK, this resulted in problems for British Petroleum (BP). Competition was so intense that rising costs in shaping up logos and designs of brands distinguishing them from each other was seen across the UK and the US. This meant a stable policy for BP to paint oil tankers, petrol stations and everything that dealt with BP Oil and Gas with same colors and designs not only to save on rising costs but also to maintain reputation amongst the motorists. In order to capture the lucrative business opportunities fueled by the growth of oil industry, BP gave instructions to its workers to dress them up in uniforms.
Many motorists distinguished services varying form company to company like BP and Standard Oil Company etc. This meant that a proper brand had been made backed with quality and excellent customer support which motorists could rely upon easily. As time progressed fuel capacity got shifted from over the ground tankers to underground, giving more room for motorists to fill up their tanks.

Further petrol developments in 50s, 60s and 70s.

Further developments started taking place, when in late 1950s the need for hi-octane technology was witnessed. Fuel dispensers were made that could mix octane with regular petrol at fuel stations and this technology got implemented in 1959. The shift was seen from merely fuelling up tanks to increasing convenience and safety at petrol pumps. Instead of traditional fuel dispensers put in a uniform way at petrol pump, many new service stations had canopies hung from the top that not only looked unique & modern, but also provided more room for motorists to fuel up their tanks in lesser time than before.
The concept of speed and quality of fuel kept rising at exponential rates during which BP took a major decision for changing its brand identity. The company brought in shield in its logo and since then has been in place with some minor designs in the BP logo differentiating it form other oil brands of the world.

The modern petrol station concept:

There are different variations in filling stations and these are:

1. Self-service petrol stations

Those stations where customers would fill up the tank on their own. Signs with pictures, explanations and warnings are shown on fuel dispenser regarding instructions on filling up fuel tank. Due to rising incidents of petrol theft, companies had drastically reduced the concept of self-service stations. When petrol pumps were introduced, there had been a relative balance between self-service stations and full service stations. However in the 1970s, self-service stations got rare and replaced by full service stations. In the UK, this concept is also rare because of gas service attendants to work for their customers.

2. Automated petrol stations

A new type of service station seen from a couple of years back where the entire process from paying for fuel and filling up fuel tanks is entirely automated without use of labor. This is usually popular at self-service stations where customers would slide their credit/debit cards, punch in the desired fuel amount, and pay electronically. The fuel would start filling up and automatically shut off once the payment is completed.

3. Minimum petrol stations

Stations where attendants operate by filling up customers' fuel tanks. This type of station is limited in number of facilities provided to its customers like cleaning up windshields, checking tire pressure and availing the facility of a snack shop at forecourt.

4. Full service petrol stations

 Get ready for the courteousness of friendly staff providing full fledge services from cleaning both windshield, checking tire pressure, providing fuel discounts and fuelling up at all one place. This has become perhaps the most popular and dominating practice by the different leading brands of oil companies across the world, like Shell, BP, Chevron, Exxon etc. Companies in an effort to create strong brand identity amongst customers and gain their slices of revenues in the market are now having full-fledged service stations with shops at the forecourt along with friendly staff.



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