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  • Hi, this is Alex from MinuteEarth.

  • In the summer of 1888, Bertha Benz (yes, that Benz) became the first person to take an automobile

  • on a long distance road trip.

  • She also became the first person to have their car run out of fuel.

  • If her steed were a horse, she'd have been able to stop at any of the stables that peppered

  • the landscape to get oats or hay.

  • But she needed car fuel, and the gas station hadn't yet been invented.

  • Fortunately, pharmacies of the era sold a petroleum product called ligroin – a common

  • stain remover that also happened to be the fuel source for Bertha's carso she

  • visited a pharmacy and was able to finish her journey.

  • And as automobiles spread - in part due to the efforts of Bertha and her husband Karl

  • Benz - pharmacies and other stores began selling ligroin and other petroleum-based fuels to

  • car drivers in larger and larger quantities, and in the early 1900s, the world's first

  • dedicated gasoline stations were built.

  • Today, gas stations pepper the landscape and make it possible for over a billion of us

  • to drive our cars long distances with little fear of running out of fuel.

  • And while horse stables still exist, they mostly support recreational riding and niche

  • professions where horses are still really useful; in general, horse power has been replaced

  • byhorsepower”.

  • But there's no reason for that horsepower to come only from cars burning fuel.

  • There are automobiles powered by electric batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, and even compressed

  • air.

  • Among these non-gas alternatives, electric cars are the most dominant, with charging

  • stations popping up all over.

  • It's not hard to imagine that at some point in the near future, electric cars - or vehicles

  • powered by a different fuel - take over, and gas stations go the way of the stable, with

  • people only visiting them for recreational rides.

  • But don't eulogize the gas station just yet.

  • Only 1 of every 200 cars on the road today is electric and 1 of every 40 new cars purchased

  • is electric, although that rate is increasing.

  • Given how rarely people buy cars, though, it's projected that it might take 20 years

  • before even a quarter of the cars on the road are electric.

  • And when (or if) a full transition to non-petroleum fuels arrives, gas stations may still be at

  • the center of it all.

  • A hundred years ago, lots of stables ended up getting converted into dealerships and

  • repair shops for the new type of carriage.

  • In the same way, our gas stations may simply get converted into stations for selling new

  • types of fuel.

  • In other words, the future of gas stations may be quite stable.

  • This video was made in partnership with Bill Gates, who, through Breakthrough Energy, is

  • working to expand clean-energy investment and support the innovations that will lead

  • the world to net-zero carbon emissions.

  • To learn more, visit: or click the link in the description.

Hi, this is Alex from MinuteEarth.

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