The Driving Force: Blacklane Ups the East End Car Service Game

Dr. Jens Wohltorf, Blacklane CEO & Cofounder
Dr. Jens Wohltorf, Blacklane CEO & Cofounder

There are many options for traveling to and from the Hamptons and the North Fork, but arriving now is a new chauffeur service that drives home the fact that service is key.

Dr. Jens Wohltorf, co-founder and CEO of Blacklane, a German-based global chauffeur service, shared with Dan’s Papers what sets the company apart, how they strive to be environmentally conscious, and what’s next on the East End.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I was a frequent traveler as a consultant, and I experienced the pain of business travel, especially with rides. Chauffeur guests received inconsistent standards, booking processes, invoicing and terms and conditions. On the other side of the business, chauffeurs had open seats all day long that needed to be filled.

With my friend and co-founder Frank Steuer, we decided to start the first global chauffeur service. We knew we could help both sides. We gave guests a consistent premium experience, guaranteed all-inclusive fares and 24/7 customer service. At the same time, we gave chauffeurs rides from our global customer base, providing them a new revenue stream.

What sets your company apart from the competition?

Blacklane was born to bring consistency, reliability and better fares to global chauffeur service. We devote our entire focus to high-quality chauffeured rides around the world.

We combine the best of the legacy limo world and the ride-hailing industry. We maintain the high service and premium vehicles that define the chauffeur industry. But we cut their prices in half and created a simple way to book on our website and app.

We also bring the ease of use of ride-hailing. It takes seconds to book a Blacklane. Guests then get the safety and assurance of top-quality vehicles and professional chauffeurs, and the global quality that comes with them.

On top of all that, we are a carbon-neutral organization. We were the first ride service to offset emissions of all rides and business operations worldwide, starting in 2017.

Can you elaborate on some of the services you provide?

Our main services are airport transfers, city-to-city rides and chauffeur hailing.

Airport transfers are the biggest part of our business, due to our reliability and the importance of comfort and discretion when people travel. However, the pandemic revealed that we needed to diversify our business to have more non-airport rides.

So we used the pandemic to innovate. Our customers’ average distance traveled doubled once lockdowns began. It was clear that people needing reliable long-distance service trusted us. The next step was creating flat-rate trips between two places. We have hundreds of routes in 32 countries, and the New York-Hamptons service is the busiest.

Chauffeur hailing was our next innovation. We brought on-demand rides to New York so guests could enjoy our quality and service for short distances.

What new trends are you seeing in the industry?

Sustainability is increasingly important. People want to minimize their environmental impact and use like-minded services. We’re proud of our record of sustainability and our future plans. Most recently, we signed The Climate Pledge, started by Amazon and Global Optimism, and targeted 75% of rides to be in electric vehicles by 2025.

What unique issues do you face operating on the East End?

The obvious variable is that Hamptons business is so seasonal. For one, summers are packed—even more this year when international travel is limited. For two, demand ebbs and flows based on the days of the week, with many people spending only long weekends before returning to the city.

We expect the rise of home office and remote work to increase non-summer business. We saw that during the pandemic when many workers had to work from home. With so many companies allowing flexible work arrangements, we’ll see more rides the rest of the

Competition also is unique here. This is a rare location where people can pay for service by bus, train, helicopter, ride-hailing and chauffeur, or drive themselves in their own car or a rental. Therefore, we need to strongly differentiate and focus on what makes us unique: Reliable, safe and top-quality service at affordable rates.

Is there anything else you want to add?

New York-Hamptons rides have set a high bar for our city-to-city service. Guests appreciate the consistency, cost certainty and ability to relax the moment they get in the car. We’re also seeing guests use us again when they need an airport transfer, to get peace of mind for their first post-lockdown flights.