Bentleys no longer have to go to the Pump
How much more luxurious can driving a Bentley be? Well, it just got a tad more indulgent. Automologist MAC reports on those new ‘fuel butlers’ pottering around town.
No, Bentley has not discovered the holy grail of perpetual motion nor has it converted all of the vehicles to electric, but the owners of the luxury brand in the Bay Area of San Francisco, USA will no longer have to go through the bother of actually finding a filling station and pumping fuel into their vehicles after Bentley announced a tie-up with Filld, a new “we bring the gas to you” service for when inserting a credit card into a pump is just too last century for you.
The latest target for the Silicone Valley Guru’s of disruptive technologies has started in California via one of a number of Smart Phone Apps that promise a sort of Uber for petrol; your phone relays a message to your fuel-filling service provider when your car is running low on gas and, almost like magic, a filing truck is despatched to where you are parked and your car is refuelled; sort of Hey Presto, I guess.
Even though it is difficult to imagine a tougher niche to muscle into than fuel delivery, a potentially combustible fluid that is being steadily innovated into obsolescence, there are now five big players in the market in the US of A, with companies such as Filld, Booster fuels, Purple, WeFuel and Yoshi, all trying to muscle into what many believe will be a market of the future. Basically, all of them have pickup trucks with specially designed 1000-gallon fuel tanks at the back. They charge a competitive rate for the gas but they hit you with a delivery charge.
Interviews by those involved and corporate press releases for all of the five services I have been able to find talk about how going to the gas station was altogether too tedious for the creators of the services, which is of course just the sort of “Point of Friction” that all disruptive technology needs. In this case, the mundane routine of standing around for five minutes whilst you replenish your car’s fuel requirements was just too boring.
One of the testimonials I came across on Purple’s website spoke about a customer who lived directly opposite a petrol station, yet still found it difficult to find the time to stop for a refill. Guess they must be altogether too busy playing Pokemon Go. The founder of Yoshi was a bit more direct when he stated: “I just can’t stand going to the gas station”.
Of course delivering a toxic and flammable liquid is somewhat more challenging than having a car arrive on time to pick you up, and certainly covered by way more regulations than sandwich deliveries, and it is here where the new start-ups may hit a roadblock. It is simply not clear whether they are operating within the law or not. Filld believes it is and goes as far as using its compliance as a selling point, but the San Francisco Fire Department begs to differ and maintains that within San Francisco, mobile fuel delivery is not permitted and it has not issued any permits to date.
Mobile fuel delivery has been utilised by construction companies and rural customers since the car was invented; this though, is a whole new 21st century digital twist on the concept as these new start-ups try to get their share of an industry that is worth at least US$300 billion annually in the US of A alone, by taking the mundane out of our lives.