New Chauffeur-Hailing Service Seeks to Challenge Uber, Lyft in City Rides

BERLIN—Blacklane, an upscale ride-hailing company whose biggest investor is Daimler AG , is launching a new inner-city service in New York on Monday, seeking to challenge the black car services of rivals Uber and Lyft as the coronavirus pandemic continues to reshape the industry.

After New York City, the service is slated to expand to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Singapore, Dubai and other locations throughout the month, Blacklane CEO and co-founder Jens Wohltorf told The Wall Street Journal.

Blacklane is aiming to serve a narrow part of the ride-hailing market that targets business customers. It uses chauffeur-driven premium or luxury vehicles and offers services such as handling luggage, opening doors for passengers and other amenities.

The ride-hailing industry was hit hard by the pandemic when lockdowns brought mass transportation to a halt. Uber and Lyft said last month that ride bookings had halved in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier.

The industry has adapted. Uber’s food-delivery service helped it weather the trough in its core offering. Blacklane’s new inner-city service is part of a similar effort, using existing drivers who previously only served the airports to offer the same chauffeured service for rides in the cities where they operate.

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