As the story goes, Eric Johnson was loading rental cars onto a transport in Tucson, Ariz., on its way to auction. He noticed that each car had a full tank of gas—an invisible value that would not be recouped in the auction lane. He mentioned to the location manager that he should figure out a way to stop giving away gas. “We’ve been trying for five years, why don’t you figure it out,” the manager retorted.

Johnson, together with his father Larry, have done just that. The company, Tucson, Ariz.-based Extreme Fuel Transfer Systems Inc. (EFTS), owned by Eric and Joni Johnson, reclaims fuel from rental fleets through a licensed and insured dealer network that presently covers the top 87 airport markets in the U.S.

Unique Technology
The Johnsons have perfected a self-contained, solar-powered fuel extraction unit that can simultaneously remove fuel from up to six vehicles at a time. The system uses a unique, patent-pending technology to extract the fuel, according to Larry Johnson.

The fuel is not siphoned through the filler neck, which today is built to impede siphoning. Rather, an adaptor is inserted at a quick disconnect point near the fuel rail. A custom-designed module is inserted into the computer port of the car, which tells the car that it is idling and therefore needs to pump gas. The car’s electric fuel pump pumps the fuel into the system’s recovery line and into a 500 gallon mobile recovery tank, which then feeds into the rental agency’s underground or above-ground fuel tank.

The EFTS system is fully safety compliant, and all dealers who operate the units have CDL licenses and are HAZMAT certified. “The possibilities of a spill are extremely remote,” says Johnson.

When Time Is Short
The unit can extract 15 gallons of fuel from one vehicle in about 12 minutes, according to Johnson. With six fuel lines working almost simultaneously, the system can reclaim hundreds of gallons of fuel in very little time.

That’s a huge benefit for location managers who need to turn over a large fleet to auction in typically less than 48 hours, says Johnson. “As long as we have access to their lot, we can do this around the clock.”

Many Ways to Save
There is a flat fixed fee per gallon of fuel that is extracted.

For smaller fleets that do not have their own tanks, EFTS will sell a 2,500-gallon portable fuel tank for a one-time charge “that costs less than an SUV,” Johnson says.

Car rental companies can use the system not only to refuel their fleet, but also to realize bigger gains on incremental sales on the fuel prepay option, or when customers bring the car back empty. For smaller companies that send their employees to local service stations to gas up, taking advantage of the portable tank will show even greater savings.

“If you’re buying and reselling fuel, you’re lucky if you make three cents a gallon profit,” says Johnson. “This system will make at least a 100 percent profit on a prepay or empty charge.” Contact EFTS at