Petrol stations, the lifelines of the modern motoring world, are more than just refuelling stops. They play a pivotal role in the global economy, providing the necessary fuel to keep vehicles running and supporting the daily commutes, long-distance travels, and freight transportation that underpin modern life. The world’s biggest petrol station does all that and a whole lot more.
Yet their importance extends beyond mere convenience; petrol stations are essential for sustaining the mobility of people and goods, facilitating international trade and domestic economic activities. In urban areas, they are everywhere, while in rural and remote regions, they serve as critical outposts, connecting isolated communities to the broader network of roads and commerce.
Among myriad petrol stations worldwide, a few stand out for their sheer size and capacity, and the runners and riders for the title of world’s biggest petrol station cater to vast numbers of vehicles every day. These gargantuan gas stations aren’t just fuel stops but are often integrated into larger travel centres – or service stations as they’re known in the UK – featuring amenities such as food courts, shopping areas, and rest facilities, making them essential stops on major transportation routes. Their design and operation reflect a sophisticated understanding of logistics, consumer behaviour, and the importance of providing a comfortable and convenient experience for travellers.
The biggest petrol station in the world can be measured in a number of ways, including by physical area, amount of fuel sold, or number of vehicles served, but for the purposes of this article it will be measured by the total number of fuel pumps.
The World’s First Petrol Stations
The history of petrol stations dates back to the early twentieth century, evolving alongside the automotive industry. Initially, petrol was only available from places like pharmacies, hardware stores and hotels in pre-filled cans. Bertha Benz, the wife of one of the great automotive pioneers Carl Benz, is said to have fuelled the world’s first car at a chemist shop in the German city of Wiesloch in 1888 on her way from Mannheim to Pforzheim.
It’s believed the world’s first purpose-built petrol station opened in 1905 in St Louis, Missouri, and the first petrol station in the UK opened in November 1919 in the village of Aldermaston in Berkshire, selling benzole. The Automobile Association – commonly known as the AA – were trying to promote British-made benzole fuel, a by-product of coal production – instead of relying on imported petrol, and the single, hand-operated pump was staffed by uniformed AA patrolmen.
Today, there are about 8,365 petrol stations in the UK, and in the US there are believed to be around 150,000, but where is the world’s biggest petrol station?
Berchem Service Station - Southbound
Location: A3 Motorway, Luxembourg | Petrol Pumps: 32
The first of two entries for Berchem on this list of the world’s biggest gas station forecourts, the southbound petrol station has 32 fuel pumps, 12 for HGVs and 20 for all other vehicles.
It’s estimated that annually, a million cars and 165,000 HGVs fill up on the southbound side. There’s also a supermarket which serves 850,000 customers a year and a restaurant serving half a million.
Location: M25 Motorway, Surrey, UK | Petrol Pumps: 36
The UK’s largest petrol station and one of the largest petrol station forecourts in the world is in the Surrey town of Cobham, between junctions nine and ten on the M25 motorway, the 117-mile ring road that encircles London.
The £75 million fuel stop, with a 1.3 million litre underground fuel tank that takes almost a week to fill, opened in September 2012. The 141 separate nozzles on the 36 pumps can serve almost 3,500 motorists every day.
Berchem Service Station - Northbound
Location: A3 Motorway, Luxembourg | Petrol Pumps: 51
A contender for the world’s biggest petrol station sits on the northbound A3 motorway in Luxembourg, eight kilometres north of the border with France. There are 24 HGV pumps and 27 for all other vehicles.
On an average day, around 1,500 trucks and 7,500 cars refuel at Berchem and they sell 260 million litres of fuel every year. In fact they sell so much fuel that they need 25 – 30 fuel trucks a day to replenish supplies. As well as the petrol, there’s a small supermarket, a McDonald’s – part of the biggest fast-food chain in the world of course – and a Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world.
Terrible’s Road House
Location: Jean, Nevada, USA | Petrol Pumps: 96
Sitting around 48-kilometres south of Las Vegas just off Nevada State Route 161, Terrible’s Road House isn’t the biggest gas station in the world but it may have the best name!
The 96-pump fuel stop has become a popular tourist spot for people travelling from Las Vegas to California and is also home to a White Castle burger restaurant, a 4,600 m2 supermarket, as well as slot and video poker machines. Operated by oil company Chevron, Terrible’s is their largest petrol station.
Location: New Braunfels, Texas, USA | Petrol Pumps: 120
The first of two Buc-ee’s on the list, their site off Interstate 35 in New Braunfels, around thirty miles east of San Antonio, is the joint biggest petrol station in the world by number of pumps. But with a smaller convenience store – around 6,000 m2 – it’s been pushed back to number two.
Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982 and there are around sixty locations across the southern United States. Almost all of them would make this list, given that they have a minimum of 80 petrol pumps per location. Their petrol station in the Texas town of Katy is believed to hold the record for the world’s longest car wash, with a 78-metre conveyor!
Location: Sevierville, Tennessee, USA | Petrol Pumps: 120
Just off Interstate 40, a few miles west of the city of Knoxville, the joint-holder of the title of world’s biggest gas station opened in June 2023 with 120 petrol pumps and 350 employees. The almost 7,000 m2 site operates 24/7 and they even have their own BBQ pitmaster serving Buc-ee’s famous brisket!
The Buc-ee’s chain is renowned not just for its size but also for a wide range of amenities, including dining options and convenience stores.
Petrolling with the Times: The World’s Largest Petrol Station
The biggest petrol stations in the world, such as Buc-ee’s in Sevierville, Tennessee, and the Berchem Service Station in Luxembourg, represent far more than mere fueling stops. They are modern marvels of retail and service, catering to a diverse array of needs for motorists and travellers.
These colossal stations, with their myriad fuel pumps and extensive retail offerings have redefined the very concept of a petrol station. The size and scale of the world’s biggest gas stations not only highlights the global dependency on automotive transport but also showcases how a simple concept can be transformed into a multifaceted hub of commerce and convenience.