Last week, as part of a promotion about summer service between New York City and the Hamptons, Uber offered one-way helicopter rides between New York City heliports and the Hamptons. An SUV ride for up to five people to and from the helipads on both ends of the trip was included.
A one-way UberChopper ride for up to 5 people cost a flat $3000, while a ride in a vehicle to the Hamptons was only $300, $400 or $500 for uberX, uber and uberSUV respectively. The helicopter service was only offered for one day (July 3) while the regular uber service to the hamptons will be offered for the rest of the summer.
This is an interesting move for Uber – uberChopper is clearly catering to the uberWealthy while at the new lower uberX rates are catering to the budget-conscious as a cheaper alternative to taxis.
Peer-to-peer carsharing may be illegal in New York State according to the Department of Financial Services. They issued Relay Rides a cease-and-desist letter last week after which the company suspended all carsharing in the entire state of New York.
Innovation, by its nature, does not always fit within existing structures. Although we’ve been careful to ensure the protections offered to our member community comply with legal frameworks around the country, we learned in conversations with the NY Department of Financial Services that it believes there is noncompliance with certain unique aspects of NY insurance law.
Relay Rides website now announces “RelayRides has car rentals across the country, except New York.”
Pando Daily suggests that this may not have much chilling effect on the industry: Relay Rides is still going strong in California, Massachussets, Pennsylvania, DC, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado and Texas and more. Just last week, they acquired rival peer-to-peer carsharing company Wheelz. Getaround, the other major peer-to-peer car rental company, does not offer service in New York state and so isn’t affected by this issue. Peer-to-peer carsharing will continue to grow, but New York will be missing out on innovative transportation options. Startups in the transportation space may look elsewhere when considering where to locate.
Zipcar jumped into the airport transportation business yesterday announcing cars located at New York airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia). The cars are located at lots that have frequent rental shuttles to them. Unlike traditional rental cars however, once you arrive at the lot there is no need to wait in line, fill out paperwork or puzzle over insurance and gas offers. This is a substantial improvement over the traditional airport car rental situation.
Zipcar requires roundtrip rentals, so this means that airport Zipcars are only suitable for short trips. For someone visiting New York for a weekend (and needing a car) it may be a perfect option. Currently, Zipcar offers small sedans (Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic) at $12/hour or $89/day.
San Francisco already has two airport carsharing options – DriveNow and FlightCar. DriveNow allows one-way car trips from Oakland or SFO airport to locations downtown SF, Palo Alto and Mountain View using electric BMWs. This allows for more flexibility than Zipcar’s roundtrip requirement as you don’t have to pay for the car once you’ve arrived at your destination. FlightCar is a peer-to-peer car sharing service that currently serves SFO. Like other peer-to-peer carsharing services, it offers a wide variety of vehicle types and will pick you up curbside. FlightCar’s pricing is less than traditional car rental companies, and it allows you to skip the lines and paperwork associated with airport car rental.
Zipcar’s move to offer airport carsharing locations is one of the first noticeable changes to its service since being acquired by Avis. The airport lots where Zipcars are parked are Avis car rental locations.