Gas station

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Typical modern gas station
Germany: Direction signs for petrol stations (petrol, diesel)
Austria: Information sign gas station
Switzerland, Liechtenstein: Gas station information signal

A filling station (also supply system , fuel station , Gas Filling , commonly Tanke , original tap ) is a system to which a motor vehicle with the gasoline fuel and diesel , some with liquid gas , natural gas , hydrogen or current can be supplied. The substances are dispensed at petrol pumps . The prices for the fuels are usually shown on a price pole . Outside the opening times for an actor at some gas stations fuel terminal are used.

History and occupation of the tank attendant as well as the advent of modern self-service dispensing systems

When the first internal combustion engines were constructed, gasoline and other fuels such as kerosene were only available in pharmacies . The city ​​pharmacy in Wiesloch in Germany, where Bertha Benz bought the light petrol Ligroin on her car overland trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim in early August 1888 , is therefore named as the first "gas station" in the world . The official German holiday road Bertha Benz Memorial Route has been commemorating this journey since 2008 . At that time, ligroin was primarily used to clean clothes (benzine).

From around 1900 other sales outlets for fuel were also opened. The first gas station directory in Germany dates from 1909. It is a list of 2500 drugstores, grocery stores, bicycle shops, hotels and restaurants that had gasoline available.

At that time, petrol was filled into any container. The safety regulations did not have to be met in any way. Milk cans or bottles that were no longer needed were often the norm. As a result, there were serious accidents caused by ignition of the fuel . Above all, people smoked when they were poured into the vehicle's tank. From these incidents the valid norms slowly established themselves. In Germany, for example, these are the technical rules for flammable liquids (TRbF) .

With the increase in motorized traffic, the first tapping points emerged, often together with car workshops , which often developed from a forge or locksmith's shop . In the first decades it was mostly simple barrel pumps , as they were still used in the home garage for a long time (barrel filling station).

First public filling station in Germany: The OLEX filling station at Raschplatz in Hanover;
(from: Echo Continental from 1923, company newspaper of Continental Hannover )

Later, hand pump columns with fuel tanks embedded under the street or sidewalk ceiling appeared. The Standard Oil of Indiana in 1917 put the unit type of the gas station that still exists with modifications, then called "Großtankstelle". The fuel pumps and the fueling customers are protected from rain by a free-standing roof , under which the motor vehicle can be driven. The ticket booth, fully glazed towards the petrol pumps, is a few meters away and a “price pole” advertises the prices in the direction of the street. Petrol stations of this type have been built since the 1920s. The first petrol station in the German Reich was opened at the end of 1922 by the mineral oil company OLEX on Raschplatz in Hanover . The same company built a gas station in their office building, the Olex-Haus , in Berlin-Schöneberg. On August 11, 1927, motorists based on the US model (where this had already been possible since 1907) were able to refuel at a petrol pump in Hamburg for the first time. Here, the cars were refueled directly through the filling pipe so that the gas station attendant no longer had to handle the canisters.

The range of the first petrol stations included - in addition to fuel - lubricating oils , tires , spark plugs and accessories, with some having a workshop attached. Car radios were added later.

The first petrol station in Austria went into operation in Graz on September 16, 1924. The brick kiosk stood on the west side of Jakominiplatz on a traffic island until 1964. The underground tank held 5000 liters of gasoline. There was resistance to a later planned 15,000 liter. Shortly afterwards, a gas station was built in Graz on Griesplatz and Lendplatz. Jakominiplatz became a hub for trams and buses and was almost car-free.

The occupation of the gas station attendant was initially created from a safety perspective , because the risk of accidents meant that refueling should be left to professionals . Then there was the service concept . The gas station attendant “waited for the tank”, so refilled the fuel and paid for it. Usually the windows were cleaned, the oil level, the water level of the radiator, the antifreeze content of the cooling water, the air pressure of the tires and the lighting checked. In times of full motorization, rationalization and self-service filling stations, it is being forgotten that the gas station attendant performed this previously common service.

The profession of tank attendant was declared an apprenticeship with a three-year apprenticeship in 1952 . The Federal Ministry of Transport took up an idea from 1942 that had not been implemented at the time because of the war. The National Socialists defined the gas station attendant as a " trainee occupation ".

After Shell in Hamburg-Altona and Aral in the Ruhr area first carried out test operations in pilot systems in 1969, BP opened Germany's first purely self-service filling station with modern dispensing systems on July 10, 1970 in Hamburg-Hausbruch . At the end of 1970 Shell had 30 such stations, by the end of 1973 BP had around 10% of its 4,150 filling stations. At the time, customers received fuel here at a price advantage of 2-3 pfennigs per liter compared to conventional filling stations.

Fuel types

Price mast with eight products

Classic fuels

Initially, petrol and petroleum were offered at the petrol stations, and different qualities of benzene and petrol. Diesel fuels were not part of the offer for a long time, as compression-ignition engines were only used in trucks, which were usually refueled in a depot.

Conventional fuels

Petrol stations offer different fuels. Gasoline of different quality (different octane number ) and diesel fuel are the most common.

For a long time, lead compounds were added to all types of gasoline in order to increase the knock resistance and thus to protect the valve seats of the engines. When these additives were burned in the engine, poisonous lead residues were formed. Out of consideration for older cars with unhardened valve seats, the omission of the additives in the 1990s led to leaded and unleaded petrol being offered side by side at times .

New fuels

From the 1980s on, LPG , natural gas and hydrogen for the corresponding types of drive were added to the range. With biodiesel , a fuel appeared for the first time that was supposed to replace another fuel (diesel). Fuels that can be used pure or mixed with conventional fuels, such as vegetable oil and bioethanol, are now new .

Gas station types

Branded gas stations

Shell gas station in Japan

Branded petrol stations are tied to certain chains. These can be the large oil companies such as BP (in Germany primarily under the Aral brand ), Shell , Phillips 66 (in Germany mainly under the Jet brand ), Total or ExxonMobil (Esso), which in industry jargon are A companies , paint companies or also called "the big five". But it can also be one of the many medium-sized chains (B-colors) that have between a dozen and a three-digit number of gas stations. Many of these medium -sized companies in Germany are part of the UNITI Association of Medium-Sized Mineral Oil Companies or are members of Avia . ConocoPhillips has positioned itself in Germany with its jet filling stations as a B-brand. Orlen Germany belongs to the Polish mineral oil and petrochemical group PKN Orlen and operates the "Star petrol stations".

A distinction is made between gas stations owned by the company, i.e. those owned by the mineral oil company, and those used under franchises . The latter includes, for example, Coop Pronto petrol stations in Switzerland . International groups with petrol station chains include AVIA , BP ( Aral in Germany), Eni ( Agip in DA-CH ), ExxonMobil ( ESSO in Germany), Phillips 66 (Jet in DA-CH), OMV , Shell , Tamoil ( HEM in Germany) or total . Orlen belongs to the Polish mineral oil and petrochemical group PKN Orlen and operates the “Star petrol stations”.

In addition, some oil companies still operate petrol stations under brands that they have taken over in order to protect the brand rights through "exercise". An example of this are the gasoline filling stations in Germany in the case of Aral and Dea in the case of Shell.

Free gas stations

Free BFT petrol station in Hückeswagen

As free gas stations gas stations are called, who sell their fuels and lubricants in its own name and for its own account and who are not integrated into the distribution system of a brand company. They are sometimes called unbranded or white petrol stations, in Austria discount petrol stations . However, every petrol station is generally perceived as a free one , which in terms of its external appearance cannot be assigned to at least one of the B brands ( Westfalen , Ruedi Rüssel , Turmöl ), although the majority of such petrol stations fuel directly or indirectly in the name and for the account of a large mineral oil company drives out.

In some cases, white branded petrol stations are built directly as such, in Germany in particular by ConocoPhillips as supermarket petrol stations . The operators of petrol stations that are actually free can only obtain their fuel from the refineries of the large mineral oil companies, which all have to meet the same legal standards in terms of quality, in particular EN 228 in the EU. In Germany around 500 independent petrol station operators are grouped together in the Federal Association of Independent Petrol Stations , which is a member of the umbrella association MEW Mittelständische Energiewirtschaft Germany .

Motorway filling stations

For the allocation of delivery rights to motorway filling stations and accordingly the distribution of brands to them, please refer to the article on motorway service stations .

Mobile tank systems

Mobile filling stations are smaller, mobile filling stations that are frequently used in industry and commerce as well as in disaster and civil protection. These enable the user to refuel vehicles and machines directly on site. In order to move mobile tank systems, different legal regulations have to be observed depending on the country. In Germany, these include, depending on the area of ​​application, the GGVSEB (Hazardous Goods Ordinance on Road, Rail and Inland Shipping) and GGVSee (Hazardous Goods Ordinance), as well as internationally the "Convention for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road" (ADR), "-on the rail" (RID ), “-On inland waterways” (ADN) and “-by seagoing vessels” (IMDG code).


The market

Gas station, 1936
Gas station on the Reichsautobahn, 1938/1939
Gas station, 1961

At the end of the 1990s, stricter laws ensured that all petrol stations had to comply with environmental protection requirements. As part of these renovations, many filling stations were expanded, but many small filling stations were also closed. With that, petrol station deaths that had been going on for decades continued. In 1969 there was a high of 46,684 filling stations in what was then the Federal Republic of Germany . In the following years around 350 stations were closed annually. This process slowed down in 2006 to around 150 petrol stations. As of Template: future / in 4 yearsJanuary 1, 2014, there were a total of 14,272 conventional filling stations (including 375 motorway stations), 906 natural gas and 6,500 autogas filling stations in Germany. They are developing more and more into modern drive-in service centers with an attached supermarket , some with a bistro .

In the past, gas station attendants used to be service staff who not only refilled the customer's tank, but also cleaned the windshield and checked the oil , but now gas stations are mostly purely self-service gas stations where only the cash register is staffed - on the one hand for cost reasons, but on the other also due to the lower maintenance requirements of modern cars. The first self-service filling station in Europe was opened in 1972 by the mineral oil trading company Adolf Präg in Lagerlechfeld near Augsburg under the Texaco brand . In the early self-service filling stations, the amount the customer filled up at the pump was printed out on a receipt that had to be presented when paying at the checkout. The use of previously purchased tokens , which the customer had to insert at the petrol pump according to the desired amount of fuel, was particularly common in southern Europe. Soon, with the widespread use of self-refueling, the electronic transmission of the tapped amount to the cash register established itself. However, there has recently been a trend towards optional service, especially at branded petrol stations (in Germany especially Shell).

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, petrol station shops are exempt from the opening times restricted by the shop closing law. Since then, many petrol stations have made more money selling supermarket items than selling fuel. Many entrepreneurs in the retail trade see this as an unjustified unequal treatment, especially since the exemption for petrol stations actually only refers to travel needs , which, however, is not necessarily recognizable for many products now offered in petrol stations (e.g. frozen meals).

In 2012, a total of 375 petrol stations were operated on German autobahns, most of which are connected to motorway service stations. The range of the petrol stations partly corresponds to that of a supermarket, but the prices of the goods are sometimes significantly higher. In addition to fuel, primarily "travel supplies" such as food are sold during the mostly continuous opening times . Gas stations at the motorway service stations were the first to be open 24 hours . The first public hydrogen filling station was opened by Aral at Munich Airport in 1996 as part of the Bavarian Hydrogen Initiative. Both liquid and gaseous hydrogen can be filled up.

In many countries around the world, especially in sparsely populated countries such as Australia , Canada , the USA or Iceland , petrol stations are also social meeting places. People eat, do financial transactions and celebrate festivals. When expanded, they form the social and economic center of a settlement or a village . Particularly in structurally weak rural regions in Germany, petrol stations have become weekend meeting places for local youth in recent years.

The largest German petrol station brands in comparison between 2014 and 1935

The distribution of petrol stations or service stations of the brands with the greatest market penetration is compared to the distribution of filling stations in 1935 (many petrol stations at that time consisted of only one petrol pump, compared to the small number of large petrol stations ).

Trend and distribution of the petrol stations by brands
brand Number of petrol stations in 2014 Company (brands) Number of taps in 1935 Brand (company) according to status
All in all 14,272 petrol stations 56,000 draw-off points (approx.)
1. Aral 02,381 filling stations (16.7%) 1. DAPG ( Standard (formerly Dapolin), Esso ) 18,327 taps (32.7%) Esso ( ExxonMobil )
2. Shell 02,044 petrol stations (14.3%) 2. Rhenania-Ossag ( Dynamin , Shell ) 16,363 tapping points (29.2%) Shell
3. Total 01,093 petrol stations ( 07.4%) 3. Benzene Association ( Aral ) 07,740 tapping points (13.8%) Aral ( BP )
4. Esso 01,019 petrol stations ( 07.1%) 4. Olex ( BP ) 06,098 taps (10.9%) Aral ( BP )
5. Avia 0.0809 petrol stations ( 05.7%) 5. Gasoline ( Motalin , Leuna petrol ) 03,315 taps ( 05.9%) Aral ( BP )
6. Jet 0.0779 petrol stations ( 05.5%) 6. Oelhag 0.0953 taps ( 01.7%) Esso 50%, Shell 50%

The 50 percent split of Oelhag between DAPG and Rhenania-Ossag would have resulted in 33.6% for DAPG (Esso) and 30.1% for Rhenania-Ossag (Shell). The addition of the shares of the Benzol Association, Olex, Gasolin and Nitag, which were later merged to form Aral, would have resulted in a total share of 31.8%. As a result, the companies that were later merged to form the market participants Esso, Shell and Aral have completely covered (dominated) the market with a combined 95.5%, while these three companies have since only had a total share of 38.1% come. The six largest companies listed in the table together only have a share of 56.7%. However, this number does not say anything about the amount of petroleum products sold.

Other petrol station brands in Germany

Petrol station on the ground floor of the " Kant-Garage " (Berlin) from 1930, one of the first multi-storey car parks in Germany

Further petrol station brands in Germany are listed below (selection):

Number of filling stations in 2015
brand number
All in all 14,209 petrol stations
BFT 02,337 gas stations
Star / Orlen 0.0558 gas stations
Agip 0.0444 gas stations
Tamoil / HEM 0.0392 gas stations
OMV 0.0301 petrol stations
Westphalia 0.0250 gas stations
OIL! 0.0221 petrol stations
Q1 0.0182 petrol stations
Others 01,214 filling stations

Construction of gas stations

The filling station must be built by a specialist company in accordance with Section 19 (1) of the Water Management Act (so-called specialist company obligation). All components must have DIBT approval. If fuel is to be sold, the dispensing devices are subject to calibration and have to be approved by the responsible calibration authority .

Petrol stations are legally covered by the Federal Immission Control Act , with special provisions in the ordinance on limiting hydrocarbon emissions when refueling motor vehicles .

Situation in Switzerland

In Switzerland on 1 January 2013. 3567 Public branded stations were counted. The most represented brand is AVIA with 659 petrol stations. This is followed by Agrola (435), BP (390), Ruedi Rüssel (314), Tamoil (305), Shell (303), Migrol (282), Eni (252) and Coop (190). In 2016 there were still 3424 petrol stations in Switzerland. The first motorway filling station in Switzerland opened in 1967 in Kölliken , on what was then the N1 .

Developing countries

In many developing countries there are no petrol stations with petrol pumps. Small vendors sell the fuel from bottles and other containers at simple street stalls. Sometimes the sale takes place directly from the tanker.


Logistic troops set up field tank farms to supply motorized military units in open terrain . Special pioneer units do this for German troops.


Diesel locomotives and railcars with internal combustion engine of the railroad must, as well as motor vehicles to drive, to accommodate the equipment a gas station. Almost all vehicles with internal combustion engines run on diesel fuel. In Germany, these filling stations are mostly operated by DB Energie and are usually located in a depot or in larger marshalling yards or freight yards .


The architecture of petrol stations has changed over time, but petrol stations have had characteristic features since the early 20th century: a building for petrol station attendant and customers, a tank island with petrol pumps covered for weather protection, a conspicuous, mostly illuminated advertisement and a separation from the Traffic through own entrances and exits. It is true that the first type petrol stations appeared as early as the 1920s, such as the stations built by the German-American Petroleum Company DAPG from 1927 , or the type buildings designed by Hans Poelzig for Reichskraftsprit and Deutsche Gasolin in 1927/28. But it was only since the 1950s, in the wake of the increasing mobilization of society and the growing importance of the car as a symbol of progress and status, that more emphasis was placed on a modern, stylish appearance of the petrol stations and the recognition of the respective brand. With the increasing use of gasoline and diesel engines in vehicles, the demands on filling stations increased in order to be able to process more vehicles in a shorter time. In addition, there was the trend to set up ever larger sales rooms, since the tenants earn a large part of their earnings with goods other than fuels. As a result, standardized type buildings were created for each brand, which were composed of freely combinable components and could be successively expanded.

Petrol stations are rarely known for their structural design. The Skovshoved gas station , which Arne Jacobsen built in 1936, is one of these design buildings.

Trade journals

The industry magazine Tankstellen-Markt has been published since 1991 . This magazine tankstelle has existed since 1954 , formerly with the subtitle Das Magazin für den Stationär . It is published monthly by Kirchheim-Verlag in Mainz and, in addition to industry information, regularly contains articles on current legal issues. Since 2013, the purchasing company Freier Tankstellen has been publishing the industry magazine Tankstop , which contains industry news and tips for free petrol stations.


  • Alexander Franc Storz: Hello gas station attendant: Where the economic miracle took off . Motorbuch, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-613-03535-5 .
  • Christof Vieweg: Please fill up the tank! 100 years of the gas station. Delius Klasing, Bielefeld 2011, ISBN 978-3-7688-3273-1 .
  • Ernst Seidl (ed.): Lexicon of building types. Functions and forms of architecture. Reclam, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-15-010572-2 .
  • Rainer Karlsch, Raymond G. Stokes: Factor Oil. The mineral oil industry in Germany 1859–1974. Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-50276-8 .
  • Joachim Kleinmanns: Great, full! A brief cultural history of the gas station. Jonas, Marburg 2002, ISBN 3-89445-297-8 .
  • Bernd Polster: Super or normal. Gas stations - story of a modern myth. DuMont, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-7701-3516-4 .

Web links

Commons : Gas station  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Gas station  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. § 2 No. 1 of the Hydrogen Filling Station Ordinance
  2. ^ Rainer Karlsch, Raymond G. Stokes: Factor oil. The mineral oil industry in Germany 1859–1974. P. 130.
  3. ^ Website of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
  4. Eberhard: The myth of the gas station . Folklore Museum Graz, ongoing exhibition
  5. ^ Resolution of the office for vocational education of the German Industry and Trade Conference in Bonn on February 1, 1952.
  6. ADAC Motorwelt , Issue 3, 1952, p. 13: "The supply of our vehicles with operating resources requires a considerable amount of special knowledge and skills, which is why the driver can rightly demand that the petrol station staff receive the appropriate training."
  7. Georg J. Schulz: When the gas station attendant got competition . In: Hamburger Abendblatt . No. 154 , July 4, 2020, p. 20 .
  10. a b ( Memento from December 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  11. ( Memento from December 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  12. Jet (gas station) #Sales
  13. ( Memento from September 4, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) footnote 5
  14. ( Memento from June 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Directive 98/70 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 13, 1998 on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 93/12 / EEC of the Council
  16. ( Memento from December 18, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  17. ( Memento from February 22, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  18. Important legal provisions for mobile tank systems ( Memento from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  19. a b c
  20. New gasoline with 10% bioethanol threatens to slow down millions of cars. In: VDI-Nachrichten , December 3, 2010, No. 48/2010, p. 12.
  21. Figures and information on the topic of petrol stations in Germany. Accessed on May 3, 2013.
  22. Energy Information Service, Edition 05/12 of January 31, 2012.
  23. ^ NOZ (Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung) v. July 8, 2008, p. 7.
  24. , hydrogen filling station
  25. Joachim Kleinmanns: Super, full! A brief cultural history of the gas station. Jonas-Verlag, 2002, p. 46.
  26. ^ Rainer Karlsch, Raymond G. Stokes: Factor oil. The mineral oil industry in Germany 1859–1974. Verlag CH Beck, Munich 2003, p. 154.
  27. ( Memento from May 23, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF)
  28. Petrol station statistics
  29. Simone Morger: When the first Swiss motorway petrol station opened in Kölliken - and why there was a train car next to it. In: , December 6, 2019, accessed on December 7, 2019.
  30. List of the corresponding petrol stations. In: Railway Atlas Germany 2007/2008 . 6th edition. Schweers + Wall, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-89494-136-9 . P. 174f.
  31. Martina Goerlich, One more beautiful than the other ?! The repair of the historic filling stations in Tettnang and Friedrichshafen , in: Denkmalpflege in Baden-Württemberg , Vol. 46, No. 2 (2017), p. 101
  32. Peter Huber: Tailor-made off the shelf. Types of gas stations of the post-war period . In: Preservation of monuments in Baden-Württemberg , Vol. 47 No. 1 (2018), p. 18