Forecourt history of Aloe Motors

About 50 years ago, oom Louis and tannie Sophie Botha operated the Mobil filling station with its very small kiosk next to Stasiestraat. The little shop was only about 20 square metres in size – slightly bigger than a single garage. There was only one petrol pump/dispenser between the kiosk and Stasiestraat without a canopy to offer protection against the elements. Between the buildings of the filling station and the N2, which was a narrow strip of tar, there were only fynbos, large pine trees and a big black wattle tree, which was popular with many species of birds.

Historical photos of Aloe Motors on n2, garden route

In 1989, due to American tax law, which did not allow American companies to claim credit for taxes paid in South Africa, Mobil left South Africa and Engen Petroleum took over the operation, which is now Aloe Motors.
Over the years the site expanded to include a diesel pump next to the petrol pump under a canopy. Further expansion of the forecourt followed growth of the fuel market. Years later three pump islands and a canopy were added .

Historical photo's of Aloe Motors, Albertinia on n2, garden route

The forecourt area was small and very congested when the current Van Rensburg owners took over the site on June 1, 2004 and they decided to expand the facilities at the filling station. To accomplish this, all the land between the original filling station site and the N2 was purchased from the Hessequa Local Municipality in 2008. The forecourt was then enlarged significantly with paving. The remaining land between the filling station and the N2 was converted into beautiful gardens. In 2015 additional paving was laid to accommodate more parking, unfortunately at the cost of most of the gardens. The additional parking provides convenient parking for long vehicles, buses, and holiday traffic. 

Historical photo's of Aloe Motors, Albertinia

Today, the forecourt houses a total of four pump islands with eight diesel dispensers and six petrol dispensers.
In line with providing our customers with quality products and services, new restroom facilities were constructed in 2019. These state of the art facilities are well received by our customers who can relax – and “recharge” – before they continue on their travels.
On 1 June 2024 the van Rensburgs will have owned Aloe Motors for 20 years and are proud of their accomplishments over that time. This will be an anniversary to remember – Party Time! 

Team of petrol attendants at aloe motors on n2, garden route


Some salient facts:
• The word ‘petroleum’, also known as rock oil or mineral oil, is derived from the words ‘petra’, meaning rock, and ‘olium’, meaning oil.
• Most of the world’s petrol, diesel and liquid petroleum gas is produced from crude oil.
• One barrel of crude oil equals 159 litres of oil.
• 6,3 barrels equals 1000 litres
• The density of petrol is about 0,72 kg per litre, and the density of diesel is about 0,82 kg per litre. As a result, you buy more energy when you buy one litre of diesel instead of one litre of petrol.
More than 4000 years ago bitumen was used by the Sumerians to seal their boats, and asphalt was used in the construction of Babylon. More than 2000 years ago oil was used by the Chinese as fuel. By the year 1400 to 1450 oil was extracted by means of hand-dug oil pits of five to six metres deep in western Pennsylvania. This oil was used for ceremonial fires and for healing. By the 1850s rock oil seeping onto the ground was used by Indians in north-western Pennsylvania (USA) as a medicine to relieve headaches, toothaches, gout, diarrhoea, cataracts, fever, deafness, stomach upsets, worms, and to heal wounds on animals.
Initially the safest and best quality illuminating oil in the developing world was very expensive oil harvested from sperm whales. All cheaper oils were inferior due to their bad smell and smoking flames. The need for a cheaper illuminating oil and the need for lubricants for steam engines and mechanical equipment stimulated the early development of the oil industry. By the 1850s kerosene was used in Vienna and eastern Europe for lighting.
On August 27, 1859, Edwin L. Drake and his driller, William A. Smith drilled the first oil well and found oil at a depth of about 13 metres in Titusville, Pennsylvania (USA). Drake’s innovative drilling technology ensured that sufficient supplies of crude oil could be produced to satisfy the markets for illuminating kerosene and lubricants. Drilling technology allowed for the commercial production of huge volumes of oil from relatively deep wells. The first oil was stored in whiskey barrels, the only containers available at the time. To distinguish oil barrels from whiskey barrels oil was stored in blue barrels. Hence the abbreviation bbl for a barrel of oil. Horse-drawn wagons transported the oil in barrels and later in tanks. The global oil trade started in 1861 when the first American oil was exported to London for lighting purposes. Gasoline was an undesired by-product of kerosene production and was often dumped into rivers at night.
When Edison’s invention of the electric incandescent light bulb seemed to signal the end of the oil and kerosene industry, the development of the internal combustion engine, powered by gasoline, created a new dawn for the petroleum industry. Ford’s production of the first ‘horseless carriages’ or automobiles stimulated the demand for gasoline as the demand for kerosene declined fast. The development of the internal combustion engine also allowed the British and Germans to convert their war ships to use oil instead of coal. Today the petroleum industry supports most means of transport.

Compiled by: WT Boy Janse van Rensburg
B.Eng.(Chemical), M.Phil. (Energy Studies), PhD


Every motorist visiting the forecourt of a filling station is exposed to safety and security risks.
Extremely flammable and explosive vapours are present when a tank is filled with petrol, which contains many more volatile components than diesel and these vapours could ignite easily through static electricity sparks, caused by cell phones, the flow of fuel through the dispensing system and other causes.
In addition, motorists are exposed to theft of personal items, the wrong fuel being used to top up the tank, the wrong type of lubricant put into the engine, the cloning of cards used for electronic payment of fuel, possible collisions on the forecourt area and a number of other risks.
I recommend the following, based on my own experience over the past 20 years at Aloe Motors:
- Get off your motorcycle and get out of your vehicle when you fill up and oversee the process.
- Confirm with the attendant that the correct type of fuel is dispensed.
- Affix a sticker, on the flap covering the inlet pipe of the tank that indicates the correct type of fuel for the vehicle.
- Do not overfill the tank as it may lead to unnecessary leaks.
- Confirm that the correct type of oil is used to top up oil levels. Consult the technical instructions of your vehicle when in doubt.
- Do not use a cell phone inside your vehicle or anywhere on the forecourt.
- Switch vehicle engines off while parked alongside pumps.
- Only use approved containers to store fuel in.
- Place containers into which fuel is dispensed on the ground to ‘earth’ the container.
- Do not allow attendants to fill containers with fuel whilst the containers are on, or in, a vehicle.
- Take care when you enter or leave a forecourt because other visitors may drive recklessly.
- Keep an eye on your bank cards when you pay for fuel to ensure that the card is not cloned or copied.
- Lock your vehicle if you must leave your vehicle for a visit to a shop or restroom.
- Keep valuable items in your vehicle out of sight when you are on the premises.
- Do not support beggars on, or around forecourts. Beggars are not allowed on forecourts.
- Keep receipts of fuel transactions and reconcile these with bank statements for the corresponding periods.
I trust that you find these hints useful and sensitise you to the potential risks at filling stations.
We offer you a safe and secure service at Aloe Motors in Albertinia !
Please participate in the LUCKY DRAW EVENT for the month of NOVEMBER 2023 and stand a chance to win some fantastic prizes.

Compiled by: WT Boy Janse van Rensburg
B.Eng.(Chemical), M.Phil. (Energy Studies), PhD


The forecourt, together with its supporting infrastructure, is the central point and most essential part of a filling station. About 4600 filling stations in South Africa sell a total of about 30 000 million litres (30 million cubic metre) of fuel per year!
Petrol and diesel are received from suppliers in bulk tankers, of between 30 000 and 40 000 litres at a time. This fuel is stored in underground tanks for later sale on the forecourt. At Aloe Motors we store up to 72 000 litres of fuel, worth about R1,7 million, in our underground tanks. Fuel stocks are managed so that customers always have a secure supply of petrol and diesel. Fuel is sold 24 hours per day throughout the year for the convenience of customers. In some European countries filling stations are closed for certain hours on Sundays.
The fuel market in South Africa is very competitive and margins are extremely small. Legislation dictates that filling stations must employ fuel attendants even though the technology to operate filling stations, without attendants, is available.
The situation in some overseas countries is often different, with filling stations operated by only one or two people who do maintenance on forecourts and work as cashiers inside the shops. This “self-help” policy is applied in some developed countries, where advanced social norms and values apply. in these situations, motorists fill up their own tanks, with the fuel of their choice, clean their own windows, add lubricants and pump tyres when required. No attendants are employed.
In South Africa petrol prices at the pump are controlled by government and are set for each geographical fuel zone. Wholesale prices of diesel are also controlled by government, but not the pump prices. Therefore, retailers can compete with diesel prices only.
The ratio of petrol to diesel sold has dropped over time as more diesel vehicles were manufactured and better diesel engine technologies were developed. During the past few years some retailers have installed charging stations for electric cars (EV’s) on their forecourts.

Compiled by: WT Boy Janse van Rensburg
B.Eng.(Chemical), M.Phil. (Energy Studies), PhD


The retail price of petrol is regulated by government and is adjusted every first Wednesday of the month. Diesel prices are also regulated by government, but only up to the wholesale price thereof.
What follows is an overview of factors that influence the fuel (i.e., petrol and diesel) price at the pump, the current fuel price composition as well as some interesting observations regarding fuel taxes.

The most important factors influencing the variation in fuel prices are:
• The Rand/dollar exchange rate,
• International supply-demand balances of petrol and diesel, and
• The average international crude oil price.
The weaker the Rand against the US dollar, the higher are the pump prices for fuel. Higher crude oil prices also result in fuel price increases. 

The Basic Fuel Price (BFP) is the price of fuel landed at the South African coast in large tanks. This basic fuel price consists of the following components:

Free-on-board (FOB) value of fuel: the value of fuel loaded onto a ship at a foreign harbour.
Freight: the cost to transport petrol or diesel to South African harbours.
Insurance: The cost of insuring the shipload of fuel during transportation, quality control costs, etc.
Ocean loss: The value of uninsurable losses during transportation of fuel.
Cargo dues (wharfage): The cost of harbour facilities in South Africa to offload fuel from ships into onshore storage facilities.
Coastal storage: The cost of storage and handling facilities at coastal terminals.
Stock financing: The cost of keeping fuel in stock for 25 days.

All these cost components make up the BFP (Basic Fuel Price) in US dollar terms. The BFP quoted in US $ is converted to SA Rands by applying the average R/$ exchange rate.

Observations regarding fuel taxes
The fuel levy on petrol makes up 17 per cent of the pump price. At a pump price of R23,90 per litre for petrol, a tank of 50 litres will cost R1195,00. Of this total, R197,50 is for the fuel levy, and R109,00 goes to the bankrupt Road Accident Fund. During the tax year 2019/2020 the RAF levy contributed a total of R41,2 billion government revenue, and the fuel levy a total of R80 billion.

Compiled by: WT Boy Janse van Rensburg
B.Eng.(Chemical), M.Phil. (Energy Studies), PhD


Traditional forecourt models are phasing out and are being replaced by technologically advanced ‘connected forecourts’. Carbon-intensive petrol and diesel fuels are being replaced by environmentally friendly ‘green fuels’ of the future.

The evolution of forecourts is an ongoing process. During the past twenty years at Aloe Motors, I have observed many significant changes and global trends in payment technologies, fuel specifications, consumer expectations, lifestyle changes, fuel price composition, legislation affecting the fuel industry and numerous disruptive technological innovations.

Technological innovations refer to developments in information and communication technologies (ICT), the emergence of the ‘internet of things’ (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), engine technology, fuel technology, battery technology, electric vehicles (EV) and vehicle technology, e.g., autonomous (i.e., driverless) vehicles. Decarbonisation of the mobility energy mix globally results in a continuous reduction of petrol and diesel sales and an increase in cleaner sources of energy such as hydrogen, electricity, and hydrocarbon gases.

“New-Generation” Customers expect a wider spectrum of custom-made, more convenient, and more efficient services, while wanting to reduce their carbon footprints. They prefer healthier food alternatives to the traditional take-away fast foods. Customers become hyper-connected through their smart phones and associated ICT systems. Search engines allow customers to choose forecourts in terms of location, energy prices, food offerings, a spectrum of convenient services and products, spacious parking, and the availability of workspace in comfortable settings.

All these drivers of change continue to have important implications for the future of forecourts. Some of these implications are:
o  The physical layout of forecourts will have to change dramatically to accommodate different kinds of energy carriers, especially in the transition period during which traditional fuels are being phased out and new energy carriers are being phased in.
o  Future forecourts will be compelled to offer a wide spectrum of energy carriers, in addition to petrol and diesel fuels, such as:
    o     Electricity for charging EV’s,
    o     Natural gas, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG),
    o     Biofuels, and
    o     Hydrogen

o  Larger parking areas may be required for people waiting for EVs to be charged.
o  Forecourt convenience stores will have to offer a spectrum of healthy beverages, snacks, full meals, comfortable work areas, private meeting points, and areas to relax.
o  Integrated forecourt systems will converge into systems that make it possible to pay for all products and services available on a forecourt by means of a single electronic payment. These systems will have to support loyalty programmes, discounts, transaction history, custom-made marketing campaigns, direct communication between vehicles and fuel/energy dispensers, and the continuous - and increasing - demand for convenience.

Future customers would like to pay for energy and other services from the touchscreens of their vehicles, without having to swipe bank cards, using their phones and without leaving their vehicles.

Technological developments will enable energy retailers to predict customer behaviour, to devise tailor-made services and targeted promotions as part of location-based marketing, to reduce waiting times for customers, and to take pre-orders for drinks and meals.
To address all the above changes and challenges, fuel retailers will have to develop new business models that meet - and exceed - customer expectations. New models will have to consider emerging technologies and all the expected implications thereof. Future forecourts will most definitely look quite different from those known today!

Compiled by: WT Boy Janse van Rensburg
B.Eng.(Chemical), M.Phil. (Energy Studies), PhD

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