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How Tesla and electric vehicles can make gas stations rich

You may not know it, but gas stations make the bulk of their money selling food and drinks, earning little to nothing at the actual pump. With the wait time to charge a Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) vehicle is equal to about the time it takes to eat a meal, a mutually beneficial opportunity exists for Tesla to partner with TravelCenters of America (NYSE: TA ) and/or CST Brands (NYSE: CST ) .

Tesla is busy setting up supercharging stations. On average, it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 75 minutes for a drivers to charge a Tesla battery. Tesla plans to open stations that connect 80% of the US population in 2014 and 98% by 2015. It plays up the charging wait on its website by stating, “Superchargers are located near amenities like roadside diners, cafes, and shopping centers. Road trippers can stop for a quick meal and have their Model S charged when they’re done.”

Instead of figuring out the best places to set up new stations from scratch, why doesn’t Tesla simply partner with the rest stop experts who already did most of the legwork for them? Tesla would benefit by having its stations in already established, proven, and familiar locations that have a variety places to eat and are already see heavy traffic. The heavily populated aspect of current rest stops allows Tesla the additional bonus of free marketing to the gas-car customers at the stations.

TravelCenters of America and CST Brands would benefit in the most obvious of ways. First, the average gas consumer fills up his tank in three minutes, compared to 20 to 75 minutes for a Tesla charge. It’s far more tempting to grab a snack, or even an entire meal, when you have that additional time to kill.
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