San Francisco-based HiGear, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service focused on luxury vehicles, is expanding to L.A. starting November 1st. The move is part of the company’s continued expansion plans that will see it arrive in five additional markets, including Portland and San Diego, by year-end.
Unlike other car-sharing services, HiGear specializes in “high-end” auto brands only, including Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Tesla.
Owners of these high-end cars can rent their vehicles to other drivers for fees that are, on average, 50% off commercial rates. Meanwhile, everyday drivers get a chance to finally drive their dream car without the burden of ownership.
HiGear provides comprehensive liability and collision insurance and performs member screening, which includes driving record checks and sometimes even credit checks. It also collects a security deposit in order to “encourage safe and fair use of members’ cars.” In additional to the rental fee ($125-600, depending on the car), drivers pay $20-40 per day in rental insurance. The average rental period is for 3 days, or around $410.
In HiGear’s case, the transfer of keys from owner to renter is not an automated procedure involving lockboxes, but actually has the members meeting up in real life in order to coordinate the transaction. Despite this hassle, the company says it now has an “inventory” of 200-plus cars and is adding new vehicles at a rate of 50-plus per month.
Earlier this month, HiGear raised $1.3 million in seed funding from BV Capital, Battery Ventures, 500 Startups and angles including Zipcar investor Craig Sherman and Kevin Chou.