On-demand portable petrol station Zebra Fuel raises $2.5m seed funding

Backed by Firstminute Capital and Zoopla's Alex Chesterman, Zebra will offer all fuel types - including electric, hydrogen, and biofuels

Zebra Fuel, an on-demand energy start-up which delivers fuel directly to vehicles, has raised $2.5m (£1.8m) in seed funding.

Led by LocalGlobe, other investors included Brent Hoberman’s Firstminute Capital and founder of Zoopla, Alex Chesterman.

Allowing car owners to order fuel via their smartphone, in the same way they might order a takeaway, the London-based business has now raised $3m to date and will offer all fuel types – including electric, hydrogen and biofuels.

Sourced from the same suppliers as leading petrol stations, Zebra Fuel claims its diesel is dispensed from its vans at over twice the speed of traditional petrol stations, while its professional drivers – who are full-time employees and not gig economy workers – have undergone bespoke training programmes.

Founded in 2016 by Reda Bennis and Romain Saint Guilhem, the former came up with the idea for Zebra Fuel after an experience of running out of petrol in central London.

The duo plan to use the investment to grow their 30-strong team, increase their fleet of vans and drivers, and focus on growth. Currently only available in London, Zebra Fuel will launch in Paris later this year and aims to be operating in four European capitals within two years.

The company’s next product will be ZebraBio – a Zebra-exclusive eco-friendly clean diesel which it claims will help improve air quality – while it will also offer hydrogen when the technology becomes more widespread.

Bennis said:

“We are also developing an exciting project with one of the major vehicle manufacturers to bring our service to all their car owners.

“We aren’t able to reveal details yet, but it’s going to be very exciting: Think Blade Runner meets Formula 1.”

Suzanne Ashman Blair, partner at LocalGlobe, said:

“Not only are Reda, Romain and the team addressing the urgent and growing blight of congested and polluted cities, by delivering fuel directly to drivers, but at scale they can help transform the way cities work.

“They can help London and Paris become the first global cities to eliminate petrol stations altogether, and create a virtuous circle whereby the more people they serve, the more unnecessary journeys to petrol stations they can eliminate and the more they can reduce CO2 emissions.

“This is especially true with corporate customers, when an entire commercial fleet can be filled up in their depot, at night, with a single visit from one of Zebra’s refuelling vans.”

Brent Hoberman, founder of Firstminute Capital, said:

“With 2.1 million cars in London alone, the size of the market opportunity for Zebra Fuel is considerable. At the moment drivers have no choice: they have to go to a petrol station to refill their car.

“But faced with the option of a far easier, quicker and cheaper alternative, how many will break the habit of a lifetime and switch to Zebra?

“We’re convinced that this is a service whose moment has arrived – and offering fuel on-demand, whether diesel, petrol, electric or bio is only the start of the company’s story.”