“It’s just one of these things that nobody has really thought about before—kind of like how Uber popped up out of nowhere.” But he said it’s not a gray area: “All I can tell you at this time is it’s not allowed as per our current fire code.”
On a recent Monday morning, about 40 miles south of San Francisco, Aubuchon carefully drove a Ford F-250 pickup truck with 324 gallons of gasoline into a hospital parking garage in Palo Alto, Calif. The truck—also loaded with a gas pump, two fire extinguishers, a bucket of chalk to absorb spills, two orange traffic cones and a receipt printer—nearly grazed the ceiling of the garage as its radio antenna whipped around. Aubuchon was looking for a silver Mini Cooper.
After a few wrong turns, he found it. The tiny car’s gas flap was, to his relief, open. Aubuchon unrolled the gas hose from a spindle in the truck bed, clutched the handle of the fuel nozzle, stuck it in the car’s tank and began filling the Mini Cooper. After six gallons, the car’s tank clicked. A printer in truck's cab spit out a paper receipt, and he transmitted an electronic receipt to the owner of the Mini Cooper. Then he packed up his supplies and drove away.
Aubuchon, a former venture capitalist, said the company can buy and equip a truck for $50,000, compared with $2.25 million for a gas station. Filld charges a delivery fee of up to $5 and then asks the same price per gallon for gas as the least expensive nearby gas station.
The delivery startups are still experimenting with business models. Purple customers can open the company’s app and get gas within an hour, and their drivers are regular people with no special certification. Filld operates around the clock but asks customers to schedule a delivery through their app at least a few hours in advance. They employ commercial drivers who receive Hazmat certification. Both Purple and Filld deliver to residential areas, while Yoshi and Booster are focused on filling up gas tanks in office parking lots. Yoshi’s trucks are similar to Filld’s. They’re pickup trucks driven by professional drivers. Booster exclusively cuts deals with businesses to fill up their employees’ cars during the workday. Its drivers have commercial licenses.
Gas Delivery Startups Want to Fill Up Your Car Anywhere. Is That Allowed? - Bloomberg (external - login to view)