Busy Twin Cities residents can add a new product delivered straight to their home or offices: gas.
Yoshi, an on-site refueling and car maintenance service, expanded operations to Minneapolis, St. Paul, Woodbury and Edina last week. With the additions of St. Louis and Cleveland on Tuesday, it’s now available in 11 markets across the country.
With the tap of an app, drivers can schedule one-time or weekly fuel deliveries and choose from a list of a la carte car-care services that include oil changes, car washes and car detailing. A trained mechanic will pump the gas and perform selected maintenance while the car is parked, eliminating the need to pull into a gas station or visit a repair shop, said Bryan Frist, one of the company’s three founders.
“Except when [owners are] sleeping, their car is most dormant while at work, and that is ample time to service a vehicle,” he said. “We can do almost everything in a parking lot. They set the time and place.”
Most customers buy a $20-a-month subscription fee that includes all weekly fuel deliveries, tire checks and free air. It also allows customers to earn Yoshi points that can be used to buy discounted fuel and other services such as wiper replacements and windshield cleaning. Members can also choose to pay $7 per delivery and get gas only when they need it. With both types of memberships, drivers pay the going rate for gas, which is set by the average daily price as quoted by AAA, and the cost of extra services.
Mark McCleary of Minneapolis signed up for the service as soon as it debuted, and he has already used it to fuel his vehicle a handful of times. He’s also had engine coolant added and new wiper blades installed while he was at work. That saved him the time of having to look up the right blade size and going through the struggle of putting them on. And he had his tires checked and properly inflated, saving him the hassle of finding an air hose and crouching down on cold dark winter nights to fill the tires to the correct air pressure.
“I like the idea that somebody is taking care of that and it’s super convenient,” he said. “Most of us are looking for affordable conveniences. This is like bringing the dry cleaning to the office. It’s one-stop shopping.”
Yoshi, which bills itself as “your full-service mobile gas station,” was formed in 2015 by Frist; Nick Alexander, a classmate at Harvard Business School; and Dan Hunter, a former stem cell researcher at Stanford. The gas station arrived on the scene in 1910, but the retail model has not changed much since, Frist said.
“Cars have to divert out of their way, so basically the idea is to make things efficient and streamline the experience for the commuter,” he said. “Forget sitting in a dingy waiting room on a Saturday or going to a second or third place for a tire change or car wash. We can consolidate that. To be the Amazon of anything, that is the idea.”
Over the past 2½ years, individual drivers as well as corporate giants including Bridgestone, Amazon, courier services, school bus companies and the Tennessee Highway Patrol have signed on. Others are getting on board, including General Motors Ventures and ExxonMobil, which earlier this month announced $13.7 million in funding for the company as it plans to grow its geographic footprint to 25 markets this year.
The Twin Cities was an appealing market for Yoshi because of its big corporations such as Target, 3M and Best Buy and its high percentage of car commuters. Yoshi executives’ hope is that companies will offer the innovative service to employees.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768