In The Dragons'
Jack ascended the iron
spiral staircase and entered the warehouse space.
The five Dragons looked at him without expression,
awaiting his pitch.
I want to present a
concept to you that will revolutionise motor
transport, he began. And Id
like to ask for two hundred thousand pounds for a
ten percent share of the business.
The Dragons continued to
eye him in silence.
Each year, Jack
continued, huge amounts of time are wasted
by the need for motorists to refuel at service
stations. My business would make this
inefficiency a thing of the past. In a nutshell,
a text to my company would result in a refuelling
vehicle, or RV, being despatched to rendezvous,
on the move, with a customers vehicle. It
would then draw alongside, and refuelling would
take place without the need to stop, or even slow
Duncan Bannatyne looked
thoughtful. Wouldnt that require all
vehicles to be specially adapted, in the way that
some military aircraft are?
Not at all,
Jack responded. An attendant would be tied
to the outside of the RV. He or she would open
the filler cap of the customers vehicle,
insert a funnel and top up the tank from a
jerrycan. The RV would then be driven slightly
forward in relation to the customers
vehicle such that the attendant reached the
recipient drivers window - thus payment
could be taken.
Youd need a
nationwide fleet of RVs to provide an effective
service, noted Deborah Meaden, insightfully.
It would be a
franchise, Jack explained. Any two
people with access to a vehicle could form a
mobile refuelling team, comprising a driver and
an attendant. Their RV would simply need to be
big enough to transport three or four large
jerrycans containing different fuels, together
with a funnel. Even a small car would be adequate.
Any rope, or even a spare clothes line, could be
used to lash the attendant to the RV.
I may be interested,
announced Theo Paphitis. Has there been any
testing of the system?
It worked well in
initial tests on a disused airfield, Jack
confirmed. We had some teething problems
with the road tests.
said Theo, in a tone of enquiry.
The tests showed that
the system was not suited to narrow, two way
roads, admitted Jack. The time taken
to complete the fuelling and payment process was
often greater than the frequency of oncoming
vehicles. As the RV was alongside the recipient
vehicle in the lane used by oncoming traffic, we
had some kinetic energy transfer conflicts.
You mean there were
head-on collisions, Theo paraphrased.
We prefer to call
them unscheduled refuelling terminations,
Jack emphasised. We found this to be a
particular problem at night and on badly lit
roads. However, he continued in a more
upbeat tone, the system works very well on
duel carriageways and motorways where
theres a vacant, adjacent lane for traffic
travelling in the same direction.
Have you identified
any other Health and Safety issues?
enquired Peter Jones.
We advise that the
attendant wear a crash helmet to reduce the risk
of injury if the RV and recipient vehicle collide,
Jack replied, and its recommended
that he or she doesnt smoke, if at all
possible. We also provide flashing signs for the
front of RVs recommending that nearby pedestrians
extinguish cigarettes and naked flames.
It can be a challenge
for the attendant to pour fuel from a heavy
jerrycan into a funnel while tied to the outside
of a speeding vehicle, Jack clarified.
Pedestrians are sometimes soaked by spilt
fuel that splashes onto the road and pavement. It
evaporates very quickly, however, he
continued reassuringly, so they soon dry
out. The driver of the recipient vehicle must
also take care when paying the attendant,
Jack added, as he or she must
simultaneously continue to drive safely
often at high speed.
Its a brilliant
concept that youve obviously thought
through in every detail, enthused Hilary
Devey. Its hard to find any drawbacks
at all. It makes you wonder why nobodys
thought of it before. I assume most of the
refuellings are successful, she queried, as
Over seventy percent
of refuellings take place without serious
incident or loss of life, Jack proudly
confirmed. Conflagrations involving both
vehicles occur in less than five percent of cases.
Jack surveyed the Dragons.
It was clear that five offers of a business
partnership would be shortly forthcoming. The
pitch had gone well. The negotiation phase had