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Mobil picks up the pace with gas pump gadget

Published Feb. 20, 1997
Updated Sep. 30, 2005

A faster way to fill up your gas tank has just been introduced by Mobil Corp., and Tampa Bay is one of nine markets where the new technology is slated to be rolled out in May.

Mobil Speedpass is an inchlong black cylinder that can be clipped to a key chain. Customers wave the Speedpass in front of designated gas pumps, then can fill up and drive away without ever pulling out cash or a credit card.

Using radio signals, Speedpass automatically charges fuel purchases to a credit card designated by customers when they fill out the Speedpass application. In the future, Mobil hopes to expand Speedpass' functions by having it alert drivers that their car is due for an oil change or tuneup.

Developed by Texas Instruments, Speedpass' technology is similar to that used by toll stickers that reduce waiting time at highway tollbooths. Speedpass key tags contain miniature radio-like devices programed with a secure ID number. The gas pump sends out a radio signal that powers the key tag, allowing it to send back its code and activate the pump.

Mobil introduced pay-at-the-pump technology using credit cards 11 years ago. The company hopes to distribute 1-million Speedpass key tags, which will be free, during the initial rollout. Applications will be available at participating stations. There are 59 Mobil-branded stations in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties eligible to participate.

In addition to Tampa Bay, Mobil will be introducing Speedpass in Orlando and Miami.