GM and Shell Partner on Instant Fuel Payments

The auto giant and the oil giant partner to make fuel payments easier using General Motor’s Marketplace app, accessed through the vehicle’s touchscreen.

Dutch oil giant Shell and American carmaker General Motors (GM) announced a partnership whereby Shell-branded stations across the United States will now accept embedded, in-dash fuel payments. Owners of certain Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles can make the transaction through GM’s Marketplace ecosystem with Shell Pay & Save, pay for their fuel from the car’s infotainment screen.

The nationwide rollout comes following a successful pilot in select US markets earlier this year – two companies working with several firms to develop the technology including Chase, Buy It Mobility (BIM) and Shell’s payment platform provider, P97. Earlier this month, Buick owners were the first to benefit from the nationwide rollout of the platform, which automatically synchronizes with the driver’s ExxonMobil Speedpass+ customer rewards account and is available at over 11,000 US gas stations. Drivers can enroll in Speedpass+ through the updated Marketplace, as well as locate the nearest ExxonMobil gas station.

Customers using the Marketplace payment option enter a three-digit code allowing the driver to activate a specific pump and start fueling. The amount due is then automatically charged to the customer’s payment method of choice, be that credit or debit or directly to their checking account.

GM’s Marketplace lets drivers order and pay for goods and services—like their morning coffee, with a simple tap on the dash. Owners of select Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles can interact with a number of brands through the in-vehicle touchscreen. Marketplace also features a ‘shop’ section dedicated to offers specific to GM vehicles; for instance, purchasing WiFi data, discounts for an oil change or deals on GM accessories.

GM is adding Marketplace to millions of existing 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles that have compatible infotainment systems, with continued rollout to compatible new vehicles. A separate data plan is not required to use Marketplace. “Through Marketplace, we’ve been able to harness the power of the connected vehicle to change the way people think about everyday tasks like filling up,” Rick Ruskin, marketplace line of business leader for GM, said in a statement.

Automakers have a long history of attempting to monetize the on-board infotainment system, via up-sells for features such as map updates, on-board internet or connected apps. However, an April report from IT analyst firm Strategy Analytics found that so far, GM’s efforts with Marketplace have underwhelmed with customers.

The report noted that although the concept has merit for certain in-car use cases, Marketplace does not serve these well, instead focusing on edge-case low-demand services. It concluded that additional partners in all markets and a focus on desirable in-car services are badly needed in order for Marketplace to become viable.

“The services which provide most value to the consumer are those which may aid the driving task itself, such as helping to plan a route, finding and paying for parking and finding information about a point of interest,” Strategy Analytics senior analyst and report author Derek Viita said in a statement. “At present, the Marketplace UI does not accomplish enough to be practically useful.”

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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