The Loss of a Million Dollars a Month

The Loss of a Million Dollars a Month

California’s gas-car phaseout brings turmoil to mom-and-pop gas stations

By John R. Ellement

| Feb. 2, 2017

Photo: Michael Macor, AP


A gas pump in a drive-thru at a convenience store in San Antonio, Texas. At a time when gas prices have escalated, consumers are increasingly opting for alternative fuel vehicles.

Photo: Michael Macor, AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — When a family moves to the country, they typically take their cars with them — after all, that’s how people have traveled the country for more than a century. Some will bring a car that’s 10 to 20 years old, bought for cash and driven everywhere from California to Nevada.

Now, as California’s gas-car phaseout kicks in, they’ll find that they are out of options.

At first, it seemed like just another fender-bender.

But in less than a year, in some places, gas stations will be shut due to a law that requires gasoline to be sold exclusively from the company that built the car, not the car’s original owner. Others, still, will have to stop selling gas altogether as the vehicles they are used in die an expected 40-year average of about 15,000 a day.

As gas prices have ballooned, many of the more than 5,000 gas stations around the country that have remained open have lost a significant amount of money.

They have little ability to pass those losses along to their customers.

“It’s a big financial hit,” said Michael Cefalas, owner of Cefalas Truck Stop in Fresno. “We’ll be down anywhere from a couple hundred to a thousand dollars a month.”

The Cefalas family bought the location 14 years ago with nothing but two gas pumps and a cooler full of ice and snacks. They soon learned they had a problem in terms of how gas

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