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Propelling Change at the Pump

Karen E. Klein profiles Propel Fuels, and their ambitious plan to lead the nation in providing alternative fuels to would-be consumers at their "gas station of the future," the first of which opened last month.
June 4, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Offering gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel fuels, tuneups for cyclists, and public transit information, "Propel is laying the foundation for what 37-year-old [CEO Matt] Horton calls the 'slow, but exciting' transformation of the U.S. automotive industry," writes Klein.

The four-year-old company is well on its way to dramatically improving access to alternative fuels for drivers in the Golden State. "Backed by more than $19 million in venture capital and nearly $12 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, yesterday the 23-person Redwood City (Calif.) startup received an additional $10.1 million grant from the Commission to help build 100 stations around the state in the next four years."

According to Klein, "Propel provides information about alternative fuels at its pumps, since studies have shown that more than one-third of drivers of flex-fuel cars don't realize their cars can run on something other than gasoline. And it encourages customers to sign up for a system that tracks their carbon emissions. They can then log on to Propel's website for customized reports about the benefits they're getting from avoiding imported fuel."

"Propel is 'a remarkable company, like the Apple store of the alternative energy market,' says Jim Lane, editor and publisher of BiofuelsDigest, a daily online publication. 'We have these transformative fuel products that are being sold as commodities, like computers used to be sold. But Apple really showed that if you start thinking about customer experience you can change people's minds and get them thinking about something in a whole new way.'"

Thanks to Daniel Lippman

Full Story:
Published on Friday, June 1, 2012 in Bloomberg BusinessWeek
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