Luxe, the San Francisco-based valet parking app startup, recently closed a $50 million Series B round, a large part of which was a strategic investment from Hertz, the rental car service. The latest round brings their funding total to $75.5 million over three rounds since their founding in June of 2013. The recent injection of funds will help Luxe expand its service to other urban centers, while Hertz will use the partnership to enhance the convenience it offers customers.
Luxe offers what can be characterized as “Uber for Valets” (more Uber for X services this way). The startup provides drivers with on-demand parking valets at any location / destination. Further, it lets users pick up their car anywhere within the company’s service perimeter and even gives them the option of having it washed and refueled in the meantime. As you’d expect, this sorcery is orchestrated through a smartphone app, available on both iOS and Android.
Understanding how Luxe works is rather simple in a post-Uber world. Say you’re driving somewhere, and you realize that finding parking is going to be a nightmare (reminder: “San Francisco-based startup”). So you whip out the Luxe app, and let it know where you’re going. Given you’re at least a 10-minute drive from your destination, a Luxe attendant sporting their signature blue jacket will be waiting for you just as you’re about to step out of your car (ideally).
Valets then drive the car off to one of the parking garages or lots rented out by Luxe. When it’s time to get your ride back, you can have your valet bring it out to you where you originally had it picked up, or at a different spot, which you can define through the app.
The app shows you a picture of your valet beforehand so you don’t give your keys away to an impostor. If you do somehow end up being part of an elaborate ruse involving the assigned valet’s doppelganger, or you have your car met by some other misfortune, the startup has a $5 million insurance policy to cover you.
Luxe is currently available in six cities: San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Austin, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Using the service costs $5 an hour on average – actual prices differ by city, and the maximum amount ranges from $15-$30 for a day. Subscription packs, for unlimited service usage, start at $139 a month for the Luxe Commuter pack going all the way up to $799 a month for power users.
There are also supplementary services available through Luxe: Refueling for $7.99 (not including the cost of fuel); car wash for $40.
The service may seem to be catering to a “soon”-to-be antiquated system as we encourage the arrival of self-driving cars capable of hunting down parking spots themselves. The fact remains though, that finding parking in the present is often a hassle, and there are worse consequences than losing a few minutes searching for a spot.
According to a study conducted around the UCLA campus by professor Donald Shoup, the average time drivers spend looking for a parking spot is 3.3 minutes. The average distance covered during that time is a half mile. That may not sound like a whole lot, but those numbers translate to a 47,000 gallons of wasted gas and 730 tons in emitted greenhouse gases in one small business district alone.
With Luxe being able to direct cars to garages and lots close to where they’re dropped off, they have the opportunity to contribute significantly to reducing fuel waste and pollution. It’ll probably help make a dent in road rage too.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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