Berlin-based Blacklane raises €22M to challenge Uber, Lyft amid the pandemic


Image credit: Blacklane

Berlin-based chauffeur hailing startup, Blacklane, has raised €22M in a fresh round of funding from its existing investors. The raised capital will help the company to extend its intercity chauffeur trips, expand novel chauffeur-hailing services, and invest in a green future.

Blacklane’s chauffeur hailing service

Blacklane was founded by Jens Wohltorf and Frank Steuer in 2011. “As frequent travellers, they saw a need for a single global professional chauffeur service. Their vision was to provide a smarter way to book and manage rides – which is also affordable, reliable, and efficient,” says the company on its website. 

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The company has grown from being a two-man operation in Berlin to an international crew of over 400 people with offices in Singapore, Los Angeles, Dubai, and Brisbane.

Video credit: Blacklane

Pandemic impact

Talking about how the company dealt with the pandemic, Dr. Jens Wohltorf, CEO and co-founder of Blacklane says, “The global travel and mobility industries have suffered, with several players struggling between drastic cuts, hibernation, or ceasing operations. Blacklane has taken the opportunity to cater to travellers’ emerging needs. Thanks to this financing, we will continue to fast-track our innovation, with zero layoffs.”

Focus on regional and local trips 

On March 1st, the company launched its chauffeur hailing service, which currently spans 22 cities – including Dubai, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Singapore – across 11 countries. The company claims to have set fares by distance only, eliminating surges from high demand and traffic.

According to the company, it employs the best local chauffeur companies that uphold Blacklane’s quality and health and safety standards across all rides. Some of the safety measures include: chauffeurs opening and closing doors and providing water, hand sanitiser and masks. They eliminate guest contact, replacing the traditional handshake greeting with a slight bow. Blacklane claims that vehicles come from premier automobile manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz.

Last year Blacklane launched affordable intercity fares in the US and UK. Now, Blacklane’s intercity trips reach 32 countries on five continents. This it has achieved by offering its travellers flat rates, privacy, sanitised vehicles, and personalised departure times. They gain productivity by avoiding the crowds, waiting, and boarding procedures of mass travel.

The company’s scheduled service continues as usual in more than 50 countries, providing airport and train station transfers and hourly bookings.

Carbon-neutral since 2017

Blacklane supports corporate action to fight climate change and encourages the development of clean energy solutions. The company has partnered with Carbon Footprint to offset all Blacklane rides on a quarterly basis. Carbon Footprint measures the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by Blacklane rides to calculate the total offset price. Blacklane’s investment focuses on renewable energy and funds a wind-power project in India.

The company will extend its leadership in green mobility with EVs and more offsetting. In February, the company announced a majority stake in Havn, London’s all-electric chauffeur service. The aim was to accelerate the electrification of its global fleet.

As a first step, chauffeur hailing in Amsterdam, London, and Milan comes with electric vehicles (EVs). The company has used Teslas for scheduled rides in dozens of cities since 2018. It added the Jaguar I-PACE from Havn and looks to onboard more automakers’ EVs this year.

This year, the company will offset its carbon emissions from 2016 back to its 2011 founding. “Worldwide travel restrictions give us a one-time chance to reset our expectations for safe and sustainable trips,” said Wohltorf. “Blacklane will recover responsibly and continue to grow while caring for both people and the planet.”

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