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With on-demand fuel, gas comes to the customer

Posted September 17, 2015

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— When Steven Huels' truck is running low on fuel, he doesn't go to the gas pump. The gas pump comes to him.

He's one of the beta testers of a new business called Phantom Fueling, an on-demand fueling service launched by John Kitto.

“We thought, wouldn't it be cool if, in your neighborhood at night, a truck would come through and fill everyone's cars,” Kitto said.

For a flat $5 to $7 fee, plus the day's average cost of gas in Raleigh, Kitto will fuel your vehicle while you're doing something else.

“You can request a fill from your phone at any time,” he said. “You'll hear from us in two minutes, like Uber or a ride-sharing app.”

Phantom Fueling is part of the on-demand economy - a new trend where technology allows customers to connect with directly with businesses.

“In society, we have this expectation that our companies are there for us all the time, whether they are or not,” said Karen Mishra, a business professor at Meredith College.

Mishra says the on-demand trend also helps business make better use of their resources.

Huels says he's willing to pay a little extra for that convenience.

“I don't worry about, did my wife fill up the car, did I fill up the car? I know it's just taken care of,” he said.

Phantom Fueling's beta-testing stage ends next month. Kitto said he's planning to offer service to Raleigh and Cary.

12 Comments

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  • tarheelv Sep 18, 2015

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    John Kitto is the founder and owner of Phantom Fueling LLC and a lifelong Raleigh resident. He graduated from NC State with a BS in Physics in 2013. (Go Wolfpack!)

  • tarheelv Sep 18, 2015

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    https://www.phantomfueling.com/about.php

  • Edward Anderson Sep 18, 2015
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    +1.....

    but maybe the people who would use this service are the ones who live in gated communities and don't like to waste their golf or beauty salon time doing menial things like normal people? Or maybe they've never learned how to fill their vehicle with fuel and they can't find a full-service gas station? I would think this would be PERFECT for the 1% or the wanna-be 1%-ers! Too many people with too much money to spend on foolish things.

  • Jim Frei Sep 18, 2015
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    "Just exactly what business school did this young man attend ?"One of those no-show classes at UNC-CH.

  • Doug Hanthorn Sep 18, 2015
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    And nobody asks the question, "Why?" How hard is it to fill up your gas tank. I drive as much as most ordinary people and I fill up once a week. There are gas stations EVERYWHERE. I just pull into one on the way to work or on the way home. It's nonsense like this which is slowly making us all incapable of managing our own affairs and being responsible for those things in life that make our way of life possible.

    “I don't worry about, did my wife fill up the car, did I fill up the car? I know it's just taken care of,” he said.

    Give me a break! Too da mn lazy to look at the fuel indicator each time you drive the car? It is just stunning how helpless people are becoming. It's not like you have to go out and kill your own food. It's not even like you have to drive to a store to buy your own food. You are out driving and you buy gas. It's real simple. And you have to be there when he arrives to unlock the car for him. Sigh. Hopefully this will die a very quick death.

  • Dean Morron Sep 18, 2015
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    This young man has an innovative idea but I'm not sure about his business plan. I'm sure his insurance company will levy a large fee for commercial gas delivery, something he probably hasn't taken into consideration. Let's do the math : 20 mile round trip actually cost a business a minimum of $12.00. So for every customer he drives to he is looses $5.00. Not to mention special fees from the State of NC for commercial distribution of gas, and then there are the safety issues !!! Just exactly what business school did this young man attend ?

  • Mike Berthold Sep 18, 2015
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    $7 wouldn't be his profit. You're forgetting wear and tear on his vehicle, insurances, licensing, taxes, as well as fuel for his vehicle. He still has overhead that is going to come out of that $7. Could be a good business with enough customers in the local area though.

  • Dan Homiller Sep 18, 2015
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    He's selling at average retail - presumably he's paying a wholesale price for unbranded gasoline. That might get him an extra $15/hour, per delivery vehicle. That helps, but yeah, he's not getting rich until he has a whole fleet of drivers that are 90% utilized.

  • Annette Mize Sep 18, 2015
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    It appears to me that you would actually pay for the gas using the average gas price in that area and then you would pay an additional fee of $7 on top of the gas price. So each $7 would be his profit. But at the same time to make a living doing this, you would have to be filling up the entire neighborhood :)

  • Jim Frei Sep 18, 2015
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    $7 per fill-up, maybe 4 fill-ups an hour considering the drive time equals $28 per hour. Dude, have you considered your overhead? I just don't see it making any profit.

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