Climate Protection: Gas stations are going out of business. 

Nick Maxwell

Introducing Climate Protection, a new monthly column from Nick Maxwell

A friend of mine just got an electric car, a used Nissan Leaf. Nissan Leafs do not cost like Teslas, especially not used Leafs. Part of his thinking was that he didn’t have to gas up at gas stations. He charges up in his condo’s garage overnight.

My friend has a lot of company. In 2022, electric vehicles were 12% of Washington dtate new vehicle purchases, up 40% from 2021.  Continued 40% annual growth would bring electric vehicle purchases to 100% before 2030.

Electric vehicle sales will probably speed up as Washington State and the federal government sweeten the deal on electric cars. The Federal Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 includes tax deductions up to $7,500 for new cars and up to $4,000 for used cars for some buyers. Washington State gives a break on sales tax for some electric cars and trucks.

Most auto manufacturers plan to completely phase out gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035. Chances are that Washington will phase out earlier than other states because Washington folks are more aware of the harms of climate change. And Washington state has the cheapest electricity. It is cheaper to drive an electric car here than anywhere else in the country.

By about 2030, over a quarter of the vehicles on the road in Washington state will be electric. Gasoline sales will drop by 25% or more.  Some gas stations will go out of business. This will accelerate the drop in the number of gas stations that has been going on nationwide since the 1980s.

The Washington State Legislature has recognized this trend. Lower gas sales means lower gas tax revenues. Road maintenance depends on gas taxes. If nothing was done to make up for the lost revenue from the switchover to electric vehicles, the Department of Transportation would be strapped.  To make up for the coming drop in gasoline sales, the Legislature added fees for car tabs for electric vehicles. Eventually almost all Washington state vehicles will be electric, and road maintenance will be mostly funded by fees like these electric vehicle tab fees.

As gasoline stations become harder to find, demand for gasoline-powered cars will drop. Gasoline cars will be inconvenient. People who shop for cars will find trade-in values for gasoline cars dropping. Dropping trade-in values will diminish how much they can spend on their next car.  Business will be tough for dealerships and for cities that depend on auto sales taxes because profits and taxes from car sales will drop temporarily. Eventually, the gasoline trade-ins will be out of the system and profits and sales taxes will recover.

Some families who buy used cars will find themselves stuck with old gasoline-powered cars without easy ways to fill up their tanks. As gasoline-powered cars become less and less convenient, car loan defaults will rise, lowering personal credit ratings, and lowering buying power. This trouble for the used car market will also take care of itself after the gasoline cars are out of the system. Until then, some used car dealers will go out of business, having invested in unsalable stock.

All of this will play out over probably about 20 years. Even after all new cars are electric, there will still be older gasoline cars on the road.  There is no urgent need for dealership bailouts. There is no need for a cash-for-gas-powered-clunkers program. A solution is for everyone to be aware that the length of convenient use of a gasoline-powered car is no longer 20 years.  Gas-powered cars can now be expected to be easy to gas up for another 10 years or so.  If purchase decisions are based on that understanding, Washington state will gracefully navigate this part of the transition to electric vehicles.

All of the coming disruption will not be a problem for my friend and his new Leaf. He is now all done with trying to get a good trade-in deal on his gasoline-powered car, and he is all done with gas stations.

— By Nick Maxwell
Edmonds resident Nick Maxwell is a Rewiring America local leader, a Climate Reality seminar leader, and a climate protection educator at Climate Protection Northwest. Reach out to Nick at


  1. Let us weep for the farrier of yesteryear.
    But in all seriousness. Gas stations are not going anywhere soon. Current gas station owners can install electrical charge stations, as well as sell copious amounts of candy, sacks, tobacco products, Powerball tickets, and the rest of the stuff typically found in convenience stores. The fact is, the power grid needs one heck of an upgrade to supply electricity to all these new vehicles, appliances, and yet to be designed electric hungry toys. Though electric cars may be all the rage, full size consumer trucks that pull campers, go four wheeling in the mountains, or many other recreational activities have yet to be mass produced. Even electric container hauling semi trucks are still in the experimental stage. Not to mention, battery technology has not significantly improved and the rare earth minerals required for modern batteries are becoming harder and harder to find. (hint: “rare earth”) .All things considered, you’re a bit premature with the petroleum obituary.

  2. Gas stations only make a tiny amount of their money on actual gas sales. All the other stuff in the station is really where the profits are although maybe Bud Light sales are down. Mr Maxwell is an advocate with clearly skin in the game of electrification of vehicles not a journalist and for that reason probably should be taken with a grain of salt.

  3. Several observations: EVs in cold weather and snow, thieves stealing copper from EV recharging stations, cost of replacement EV batteries, weight of EV batteries, electric grid can’t support the massive recharging demand(ie., California), elapsed time to recharge…

    Oops…time to recharge my signaling with my virtue recharger

  4. Gas Stations will be needed. Boats, ATV, Fire Trucks. People will have collector cars. Generators to help keep the home going when the power goes out. Alot of things run on gas. Such as firefighters fighting fires in remote areas, need gas for chainsaws, fire trucks , rescue vehicles. Electric is here to stay and that is good and fine but gas will never completely go away.

  5. Thank you Mr Maxwell for writing such a compelling argument against the electrification of vehicles. You correctly pointed out that government is coercing and pushing electric vehicles at the peoples’ expense. Tax incentives is wealth redistribution by taking hard earned money away from the people to pay for government’s pet projects. Washington state has the highest gas tax in the country and some of the worst roads. And just because you claim most auto manufacturers will stop making combustion engines by 2035, which is unfounded, doesn’t mean it will be because electric has taken over. Hydrogen vehicles will soon be coming to market.

    It’s odd that you gleefully celebrate that gas stations are going out of business or becoming minimarts to survive and that car dealerships will face tough times. This should horrify people. People are losing their livelihoods, family businesses, and the ability to offer jobs to others. There is a bigger picture here.


  6. 2
    And you make it sound like combustion engines are so inconvenient and electric is the gold standard. Look outside your bubble, sir. Charging takes time and real estate. Electric cars simply do not perform in cold. We have a mild climate here but I can tell you people have succumbed to the lies of the glories of electric only to be stranded on a mountain pass or (on a San Juan Island) and then sell those cars. Dealers in cold states like Montana and the Dekotas think this is all nonsense, and for good reason. The 40% increase in sales you refer to is an increase of a minuscule number to begin with, mostly in cities where people are less dependent on vehicles for big jobs and safety.

    Electric vehicles do not have the lifespans of combustion vehicles and there is currently no way to recycle them. The batteries and components come primarily from China, which perpetrates some of the worst human rights (and climate) violations. Creating these vehicles takes more energy and expends more “pollutants” that the lifespan of combustion vehicle. There won’t be a used electric market of significance because they have such a short lifespan.

  7. 3
    The reality is man’s ingenuity has used fossil fuels to lift more people out of poverty and mitigate natural disaster harm. The government and “experts” like to cherry pick their spokespeople and make it sound like there is no other side to the story. It’s decided. Experts agree. Blah, blah, blah. However many qualified scientists who use data instead of faulty modeling do not espouse climate alarmism and catastrophe and know that net zero is unscientific and another way to control the masses.

    If you disagree with me, I invite you to do your own research and look beyond the “experts” offered by the government agencies and media. It’s easy to find and plentiful.

    Thank you again for your compelling piece.

    1. “Thank you Mr Maxwell for writing such a compelling argument against the electrification of vehicles.” Tamara, I had this exact same reaction to this “article” that, to me, really seems more like an op-ed or an annoying info-mercial. I’ve done my research. I am not at all persuaded by Mr. Maxwell and I’m not buying the fear (or the EV) he’s peddling.

  8. Back in the 50’s Popular Mechanics Magazine boldly predicted that by now the automobile would be long dead and people would all be flying around in personal air car and helicopter type vehicles. That didn’t happen and this probably won’t either.

    What will probably happen is electric cars for personal use and electric public transport pods will become the dominant modes of transport in urban and suburban areas. Gasoline/electric hybrid trucks and SUVs will become the norm for road trips, camper and toy hauling, and agricultural applications. So far, range for towing and other work needs from electric trucks falls by about half when used for anything other than just point A to point B. Add into this mix severe hot or cold weather conditions and the range of all these electric vehicles is severely impacted in the negative direction.

    This isn’t just my prediction. Toyota Corporation is saying the same things that I am about the future of electric and gas and they are not joining the all electric band wagon like most of the other major car companies. Just following the herd is never a very good idea.

  9. Thank you Nick for helping us think about how the future will play out.
    One thing for sure, people will still need to breathe. Keeping that possible is our challenge.

  10. Thank you, Teresa, for adding Nick to your list of contributors. With the Climate Crisis upon us, we need as much creative thinking as possible to move us forward on solutions.

  11. There is one comment about the electric battery problems. I think from what I have read that is the worst of it.
    Receding water in rivers may limit what goes over the dams in short order. If our electricity is cheap compared to others what will those others do as demand goes up.
    Getting the scarce materials for the batteries is already seen as a problem. As the world tries to go that way that would be a no go limitation.
    And battery disposal is another huge problem environmentally also.

    Think if there was a clean burning, high mileage gasoline, wouldn’t that be grand?

  12. What is your source that Washington State has the cheapest electricity? Latest data (2021) at the US Energy Information Administration shows multiple state with cheaper average electricity prices. Washington’s average was $8.75 cents/kWh. Idaho was $8.17, Wyoming $8.25, Utah $8.34, Oklahoma $8.52 and so on.

    1. Mr. Landau,
      Thank you very much for checking. I think you saw the EIA’s Table 2.10, which shows 2021 prices for “All Sectors” that you report: Washington, 8.75 cents; Idaho, 8.17; etc.

      Those “All Sector” prices include wholesale purchases. The retail prices are in the left-most column. In 2021, the average residential price in Washington State was 10.11 cents per kilowatt-hour, the lowest in the U.S (

      You are correct in describing prices in the first three months of 2023, when the average residential price in Washington was 10.65 cents per kilowatt-hour. Four states had lower prices in January-March. The lowest was North Dakota at 9.87 cents. By comparison, electricity is 33.91 cents per kilowatt-hour in Connecticut.

      To see why the price of electricity makes a difference, consider the choices: In Washington State, it costs about $3 in electricity to drive a Chevy Bolt 100 miles, compared to about $15 in gas for a Honda CR-V and about $23 for a Ford F-150.

      In Connecticut, it costs about $9 to drive 100 miles in a Bolt; about $12 in a CR-V; and about $18 in an F-150.

  13. I don’t know Nick personally and I assume he is a nice person. I think he ran or tried to run for city council last time. He is Liberal. Ok. But I agree with all of the posts here. This that Nick and many want isn’t a reality yet and it if ever it is it will be a long time. Even our Dem President of the US says we will be using gasoline and natural gas for at least 10 years. And that is a guess too. SO on this deal I wouldn’t worry too much. When the infrastructure is ready ?? And that is far from accomplished we can revisit this. For now I am just watching.
    Good luck and Thanks to all for commenting and yes Nick too.

  14. There is much here about electric vehicles. But ignores other potential technologies including hydrogen fuel cells already being adopted in California. As many commenter point out there are many unknown or unintended consequences of all electric. But we are jumping on an unproven technology without considering others. Let’s take a big picture view always with climate in mind

    1. You are spot on Rebecca!
      Electric is not the long term solution. Not by a long shot. The infrastructure just cannot support it. The only way we could ever provide enough electricity for our ever increasing needs is to burn coal.
      Toyota is moving fairly quickly into hydrogen and Porsche has developed an alternative fuel that is cheap and easy to manufacture as well as zero emissions that can used in existing ICE’s. No child labor digging up the materials to make batteries AND no hazardous waste used batteries to dispose of. I for one am not jumping onto the electrics, but will wait for a more realistic and user friendly option that will not force people to junk their current cars and pay the EV prices.

  15. I hope it’s clear to everyone that “electricity” is a method to transport energy. And batteries are one method of storing electrical energy. And electric motors are a way to convert electricity into motion.

    Gasoline is also a method to transport energy (the fuel truck). And the gas tank is a way to store energy. And the internal combustion engine is a way to convert chemical energy into motion.

    The other benefit of gasoline is that it is also a source of energy. Electricity is not. Heck, you could run a gasoline powered generator to power the grid and charge an electric car. The real question is energy sources – not energy transportation. If we all “go electric”, we still need energy from some other source. That is what we should be focusing on – the long term source of energy. Could be petrochemicals, wind, thermo, solar, nukes, and who knows what next. The whole electric versus gasoline is a false discussion in my view.

  16. These are great informational comments. Sounds great to me. Why replace, just to replace again. I have been seeing a lot of talk about these options.

  17. (RESUBMIT)

    It’s not a surprise that the sales of electric vehicles are as noted given that WA state passed legislation in 2022 that sets a target for all model year 2030 or later passenger and light duty vehicles sold in WA state to be electric vehicles. It forced submission and also is the most aggressive state goal in the U.S., at 5 years ahead of CA.
    “Clean Cars 2030” initiative was nested in the “Move Ahead Washington” legislation which was sponsored by none other than Marco Liias (the gift that keeps giving).
    Interesting how that all works.

    Even given that, I find this article to be speculative and light on data for such a technical topic. The whole “my friend” anecdote feels contrived and dare I say, manipulative.

    So I looked up Nick Maxwell on Linkd In and his “About” says:
    “My own strongest commitment is (to) lobbying to remove fossil fuels from electricity generation, electrifying everything…”
    “Promoting electric vehicles, public transportation, and walking.”

    This new column should be labeled as an opinion column, in my opinion.

      1. Thank you for confirming that this is an opinion column.

        My opinion is that it lacks transparency to have a column being led by an individual who is seeking to gain employment in climate protection lobbying/advocacy (according their Linkd in profile) and potentially enhance their resume in this endeavor, therefore it is likely that the individual has monetary & professional skin in the game. Is that truly opinion or is it lobbying?

        Having said that, I’m a staunch believer & defender of Free Speech and civil discourse and believe the truth will always prevail. I have enjoyed reading the responses.

  18. Electric cars are nice quiet powerful so long as you don’t use the power because they don’t go far using your lead foot there aren’t much better environmentally either. Really not a fan of government getting involved and manipulating markets. The problem with green energy is storing it using it to make hydrogen is probably better than batteries. Or who knows what will be developed in the future. I think this push for electric vehicles is a fools errand with our tax dollars. That said having choices is good electric or gas the problem is government mandated transformation.

  19. Electric cars and light trucks are still too unpredictable as to range with too many variables affecting their range to really be practical, yet they are essentially being forced on us by government decree. Is this freedom and living in a free country?

    The real problem is we are badly over populated worldwide and that’s killing the planet as we know it. Climate change, war, refugees, drug abuse, animal extinction and pandemics are the symptoms of the over human population problem. Yet we keep making laws and social policies that encourage over population all over the world.

  20. Mr. Maxwell,

    Commenters express disagreement that gas stations will disappear, bring up rare metal excavation for batteries, battery life, and electricity to re-charge, refer to inequity in government subsidy of electric vehicles. Interesting comments.

    What about vehicle size, battery size, and SUV safety issues for pedestrians and passengers of cars? Following are excerpts from an Atlantic article (link below):

    Electric Vehicles Are Bringing Out the Worst in Us
    The downside of heavy, overpowered trucks and SUVs

    “One recent study found that electrifying SUVs could actually increase emissions by restricting the batteries available for smaller electric cars.”

    “Americans require little encouragement to buy an SUV or truck; what the country needs are policies that nudge them toward vehicles that are less dangerous to the planet and to other travelers. Instead of capitalizing on electrification in that way, policy makers are further codifying the supremacy of the biggest, most dangerous automobiles.”

    Perhaps you would consider writing an article addressing concerns brought up by commenters.

    Thank you.

  21. Ms. Bloom,

    Great idea! I will add these concerns my list of topics for columns. My column is monthly, so the next one will not appear until July.

    The Atlantic article that you mention is more critical of people who drive SUV’s and pickups than I think is sensible. I don’t see as much value in criticizing SUV’s and pickups as the author of that article. As Saul Griffith explains in ELECTRIFY (MIT Press, 2021), we can stop greenhouse gas emissions even if Americans continue driving SUVs and pickups. Definitely a good topic for a column.

    In comments, I’m happy to answer questions or requests, like yours, that are to me. Not everyone shares their opinion with the intention of a dialogue, and that is ok too.

    – Nick

  22. I’ll give up my very efficient six cylinder gas powered pick up truck that gets 14mpg while towing our 19ft. travel trailer when everyone else gives up public and private airplane flights for convenient fast travel over land masses. Airplanes use massive amounts of fossil fuels just to get airborne and no one is talking about outlawing them anytime soon or converting them to electric power. There is no way to “save” the planet at this point, except to stop having so many babies and/or going back to horse farming and horse buggy transportation. There is no question that the planet will be here; the question is will humans still be on it?

  23. An additional thing to consider and investigate is the extra cost to insure an electric vehicle. In certain cases of collision some vehicle battery packs are part of the structure and are not serviceable. The car is then totaled due to this issue, cost to repair, and hence extra cost to insure. Owners may want to check with insurance carrier and investigate cost of repair to see before purchase of a specific electric vehicle.

  24. Nick,

    Thanks for your response. My recollection of the Atlantic article, which I read in January 2023, was that the focus was on “policy” and “policy makers,” not on being “critical of people who drive SUV’s and pickups” as you interpreted. Again:

    “what the country needs are policies that nudge them toward vehicles that are less dangerous to the planet and to other travelers. Instead of capitalizing on electrification in that way, policy makers are further codifying the supremacy of the biggest, most dangerous automobiles.”

    The auto industry will always maximize their profits. A good way to do that is to make large, heavy, resource intensive vehicles that will garner the highest prices.

    If “electrifying SUVs could actually increase emissions by restricting the batteries available for smaller electric cars” why wouldn’t we want a shift in policy to, for example, provide rebates for smaller vehicles only? Then more people could afford an electric vehicle, and perhaps fatalities and injuries in vehicle accidents would decrease.

    Here are two articles referencing increased fatalities and injuries related to SUVs, the first pedestrian, the second passengers of smaller vehicles.

  25. Joan,

    Thank you for the references. I apologize that I thought the article was criticizing people who drive SUVs and pickup trucks. I see that the article says there should be policies to “nudge people toward vehicles that are less dangerous” and that the additional articles explain that SUVs are more lethal and dangerous to other drivers. Sorry that I got confused about what you were bringing from the article.

    I will definitely consider this topic for a coming opinion piece.

  26. Nick,

    You’re welcome. I accept your apology. Thank you for being open to my request, and to addressing issues raised by commenters.

    I’d be interested in info related to Mike Murdock’s comment:
    “In certain cases of collision some vehicle battery packs are part of the structure and are not serviceable. The car is then totaled due to this issue, cost to repair, and hence extra cost to insure.”

    Jim Fairchild’s:
    “the problem is government mandated transformation.”

    Government favors business interests, ie: corporate profits (auto industry) and development/real estate/construction profits (housing), leading to simplistic solutions to complex issues.

    And Tamara Nelson’s:
    “Electric vehicles do not have the lifespans of combustion vehicles and there is currently no way to recycle them. The batteries and components come primarily from China, which perpetrates some of the worst human rights (and climate) violations.”

    What about human rights violations in mining of rare minerals? What about recycling of batteries and vehicles?

    Hopefully, your column will tackle these complex climate protection issues. I look forward to your July column.

  27. This government intervention, virtually mandating electric, is a mistake as well as being undemocratic and anti-capitalistic (market place based solutions). Shades of the 55 mile an hour federal speed limit to fight the Arab oil embargo that was such a fiasco. Although I did love it at the time because it suits my natural preferred pace (slow and steady); but it wasn’t good for the overall economy in terms of moving people, goods and logistics.

    The vehicles that would actually make sense are small electric town cars and plug in hybrids (cars, trucks, SUV’s and busses), which would cut down emissions greatly in all urban and suburban areas where most of the hydrocarbon pollution is created. The right vehicle for the right use in the right places. Another huge need is to get overland travelers back on efficient high speed trains (diesel electric, like the newer ferries) and out of fuel guzzling jet planes. It would also be helpful to quit as much deforestation as possible all over the world. Most of this will never happen because we are mostly about what is most convenient and makes lot’s of money for someone.

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