WeFuel, a new Silicon Valley startup, is the latest to join a host of ‘Uber for Gas’ type services. It’s an app-based refuelling service that promises to have a gas truck reach users at the location of their choice within 30 minutes of placing the order. The app can currently be used in Palo Alto and Menlo Park.
The launch of WeFuel last week kicked up several debates online; those in love with the idea are quick to point out its obvious advantages – if you run out of gas, you can get it delivered to your car at the touch of a button. Pumping gas is a waste of time, according to many, and WeFuel addresses that problem beautifully.
Obviously, this premium service comes with an added cost, so WeFuel does not appeal to those who want to save money. They argue that the only time you’ll want gas delivered is in an emergency, which isn’t likely to happen very often. Also, it’s lazy, wasteful and hazardous to the environment to have a gas truck come to you all the time, because of all the extra gas needed to transport fuel.
“There’s already a solution for people who don’t want to hassle with refueling a car: plug-in vehicles,” writes Sebastian Blanco for Auto Blog. “If the few seconds it takes each day to actually, physically charge at home is too much, then you can invest in an aftermarket wireless charging option. It’s so much cooler.”
But WeFuel cofounders Ale Donzis and J.P. Freijo strongly believe in their business model. In fact, they’re already making plans for expansion with an initial angel investment of nearly $1 million. “Our vision is about getting to the point where every car is connected with WeFuel,” Donzis said. “We’re launching delivery in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, but we plan to go all across the Bay Area by the end of the year, and nationwide in two to three years time.”
Photo: The Verge video caption
“Technology has transformed our lives, but we are buying gas the same way we did more than 100 years ago,” they added in a press statement. “A new level of convenience is long overdue, but creating a connected platform to replace the gas station in a safe, secure and scalable fashion is not trivial. Our solution, which is executed perfectly from the start, features the highest standards for safety and customer service.”
Some of WeFuel’s competitors include Filld, also operating in Silicon Valley with $3 million in seed funding, and Purple, launched in Los Angeles last May. All these startups work along the lines of other delivery services like Uber, Postmates, and Instacart, while eyeing the $320 billion US gasoline retail market. “Gasoline has lagged a bit compared to other categories like food and transportation because the regulation is a lot more complex,” Freijo said. To operate smoothly, WeFuel has had to comply with regulations from local, state, and federal authorities.
WeFuel currently sources gas from two wholesale suppliers, and retails at the average price per gallon in the user’s zip code, plus a $7.49 delivery fee. They’re also offering an unlimited delivery subscription at $19.99 a month, which doesn’t cover the cost of gas, but includes all servicing fees. The startup is now working on WeFuel Driveo, a device that users can install in their cars to allow WeFuel to remotely monitor tank levels and deliver gas automatically, even if the user is not there.
Looks like trips to the gas station are slowly going to become a thing of the past!