Uber put out the cab industry, so will smartphones do the same for gas stations?
As the smartphone replaces personal ingenuity and intuition as the sharpest tool in a human’s shed, the market continues to adapt to a new way of doing things. The first long-standing business to go was the taxi, brought to ruins by Uber and Lyft. Now, a handful of optimistic start-ups want to do the same to the gas station. Like Uber, businesses like WeFuel, Purple, and Booster Fuels are trying to change the game by offering gasoline delivery services that can be ordered from a smartphone.
This business model has multiple upsides to the traditional gas station. Most obvious would be to save time for busy commuters who don’t want to drive to a gas station and offer greater convenience by allowing customers to fill up while at work or at home relaxing. Stranded motorists would benefit from this also, as would people who have challenges filling their tanks. It also saves gas companies money by reducing the cost of investment. A gas station usually costs around $2.25 million to build, while a single delivery truck costs $50,000 to buy and equip. The price of gas is competitive too. A $5 delivery charge is all it takes to send a truck over and the price of gas is then set at the same price as the cheapest nearby station.
The problem with the concept is of the legal sort, because unlike Uber, the laws don’t leave rules in the grey area. Many local municipalities have fire codes that ban trucks loaded with hundreds of gallons of combustible liquid from roaming cities because they usually need to enter residential facilities and public areas. Traffic accidents also become more of a risk for the same reason, but some companies are trying to make things safer by employing delivery drivers with hazmat certification. As these companies and regulators work out the legal kinks to this new business, we may soon see gas stations become a thing of the past in crowded cities.