Is this the end of exorbitant fuel prices on the highways? For the first time in France, a motorway concessionaire is launching its own gas station. Displayed objective: to lower the bill for motorists. "We have been calling on tankers for years to install low-cost stations (Editor's note: low price) on our network, says Xavier Rigo, Deputy Director General of Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône (APRR). They never met our expectations. So we take things in hand. "
Called Fulli, the new experimental station, all blue, was installed in early April on the A6 motorway, instead of a Total station, about fifty kilometers north of Lyon. APRR wants to offer rates that are equivalent to, or even lower than, gas stations installed in city centers located near the motorway.
That is a drop of seven to eight cents per liter compared to prices regularly encountered on the highway. "On average, you pay 0.15 euro to 0.16 euro more on the highway than in a supermarket, says Xavier Rigo. In between, you have the city center station, where you pay 0.08 euro to 0.09 euro more than in a supermarket. We want to be between the supermarket and the downtown station. "
"My oil customers are not going to be happy"
To achieve this, while respecting the obligations of a motorway station (opening and human presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, possibility of taking a hot meal or access to a free toilet, etc.), Fulli has limited the number of intermediaries. In addition, so-called luxury fuels, such as Excellium, will not be sold to play on volumes.
It remains to be seen whether this beautiful promise of lower prices will be kept. In the mid-2000s, the arrival of supermarkets on motorway areas was synonymous with softer prices for the motorist. "That was a flop recognizes Xavier Rigo. They aligned themselves with market prices. An incomprehensible standardization.
"Since the fees to pay for each gas station are different, there is no reason for fuel prices to be the same," says APRR's deputy general manager. Some of my oil clients are not likely to be happy with Fulli's arrival. But on the other hand, thousands or more of my other customers, motorists, will be delighted. "
A marginal concept
And for those who wonder about such a mix of genres, Xavier Rigo recalls: "In our contracts, it is clearly stated that we are responsible for the service stations. Historically, we have been in the habit of entrusting the management but nothing requires us. "
Fulli does not just agitate prices, she wants to change the services. Among the novelties, toilets reserved for families. But is fulli intended to replace the other 96 stations of the APRR network? "No, we're here to create competition, not the opposite," insists Xavier Rigo. We'll see in a year if we managed our bet. We will have to attract motorists. There is still a station every 30 km while the norm is rather one every 60 km. But the state refuses to reduce the number of stations.
Contacted, neither the Sanef nor Vinci Autoroutes, the other two heavyweights in the sector, intend to launch the same concept on their networks.