Upscale Chauffeur-Hailing Service Takes on Uber and Lyft in Cities

Image Credit: Blacklane

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Here’s one for the man or woman whose expense account knows no bounds.

Blacklane, a high-end ride-hailing service, is launching a new inner-city offering in New York today.

Backed by Daimler AG (Mercedes), Blacklane is taking on the black car services of rivals Uber and Lyft with a slightly more upscale touch.

For the Modern, Virus Conscious Man

Blacklane initially began as a niche app offering chauffeur rides to and from airports in 300 cities worldwide — luggage handling, door opening for passengers, and other amenities were included to make you feel especially important.

But that business nearly evaporated when the coronavirus halted air travel, and Blacklane was forced to pivot:

  • In December, Blacklane launched an intercity service (think rides from New York to Boston for $399) for business travelers wary of crowded flights in situations where Zoom will not suffice.
  • Launching today, Blacklane will now target the same luxury-seeking customer looking to avoid crowded subway rides.

After New York, the service will launch in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Singapore, and Dubai.

Uber and Lyft Less Successful at Losing Money

Despite the pandemic, Blacklane rivals Uber and Lyft — two companies that are no stranger to losing lots of money — actually got less unprofitable in 2020. Uber reported a net loss of $6.8 billion in 2019, down from a staggering $8.5 billion in 2019.

Uber was able to stem losses by pivoting hard to delivery services, and its delivery gross bookings were $10 billion in 2020, up 130% from 2019.

The takeaway

Blacklane was targeting a 2022 IPO, but market uncertainty has pushed that back to 2023 at the earliest.