Blacklane was born to take the stress out of travel, starting with chauffeured rides. The company started in 2011 and began service in Berlin in 2012. It went global in 2013 and now serves more than 50 countries.
The company has offset emissions of all rides and company operations since 2017, making it the first ride service to do so. Blacklane first introduced electric vehicles to its fleet in 2018 and, this year, will offset its pre-2017 emissions to be carbon-neutral for the company’s entire existence.
Sascha Meskendahl is the Chief Revenue Officer of Blacklane and, following the latest investment in Jaguar Land Rover’s own mobility company, Havn’s new Director.
“We were in contact with Jaguar Land Rover when Havn was only a concept,” he explains to Auto Futures. “As Havn grew, we stayed in touch knowing there would be the possibility of a partner. As talks progressed last year, we saw the shared vision on the future of chauffeured transportation and our strong cultural alignment. Both Blacklane and Havn obsess about service and sustainability, so it was natural for us to invest.”
Jaguar Land Rover’s all-electric premium chauffeur service launched in London back in March last year, rolling out a fleet of all-electric Jaguar I-PACE performance SUVs. Each ride can be tailored to the preferences of the passenger with options such as playlist, temperature, and chauffeur interaction all customisable ahead of a journey via the iOS and Android app or an online booking portal.
By investing in a service like Havn, Blacklane is able to take the next step in sustainable mobility. Meskendahl believes that Blacklane and Havn share the same DNA, encompassing first-class customer service, professional chauffeurs, and green mobility.
“This is a partnership between two companies that believe in being first,” he says. “Havn was London’s first all-electric chauffeur service with the Jaguar I-PACE while Blacklane introduced the first global carbon-offset program in the industry.”
Following the announcement, Blacklane and Havn will continue to operate as separate brands serving different rides. Guests of both Havn and Blacklane will continue receiving the same service, which includes best-in-class Covid-19 health and safety measures.
Succeeding in a Time of Uncertainty
This partnership helps Blacklane further establish itself in the electric vehicle sector, utilising Havn’s all-electric fleet to gain insight into daily electric vehicle operations in one of the world’s busiest cities.
Today, it boasts a variety of EVs, including the Jaguar I-PACE, Tesla Model X and Tesla Model S. The company is also accepting new models on the market, such as the Mercedes-Benz EQC and EQV and the Audi e-tron.
“Combined with Blacklane’s use of EVs, we will learn the best way to manage an electric fleet for short-distance inner-city trips, mid-distance rides such as airport transfers, and long-distance inter-city journeys,” says Meskendahl. “We will also compare the performance of multiple automakers’ electric vehicles and look forward to evaluating their performances and guest feedback.”
In addition to a fantastic line-up of EVs, Blacklane prides itself on its drivers who are the customer-facing aspect of the service. These reliable professionals are licensed, insured, and regulated professional chauffeur behind the wheel.
However, the global pandemic has strained all businesses, especially the ride-hailing sector. With fewer people traveling, there is little demand for both mobility services and their drivers, putting jobs at risk.
Despite this, Blacklane has managed to retain all of its employees worldwide during this challenging period.
“We have avoided layoffs by closely managing costs and using government aid. But more importantly, we achieved this because of our one-crew approach. They accepted reduced working hours knowing that it would preserve jobs and allow Blacklane to rapidly recover when travel resumes,” says Meskendahl.
People are having to reinvent how they operate their businesses in order to survive.
A Cleaner Future
Blacklane has already been certified as a carbon-neutral organization by Carbon Footprint for several years.
Through its green initiatives, Blacklane became the first ride service to offset its carbon emissions across its entire operation. Meskendahl and his team now plan to offset all emissions since it was founded a decade ago.
“What makes this especially gratifying is that the idea came from a cross-departmental team. It was a grassroots initiative that began years before offsetting became popular in the travel industry,” he says. “Our next step is to be carbon neutral for Blacklane’s entire existence. To do so, we will offset carbon emissions from rides and business operations from our founding in 2011 through 2016, before we began offsetting emissions.”
Playing its part, Blacklane has become a leading force in the electrification of ‘chauffeured transportation,’ making emissions-free vehicles the norm in the industry. Today, EVs are the best option today and will be important in sustainable mobility for the foreseeable future. Meskendahl is also looking at additional alternatives to petrol and diesel vehicles, including a hydrogen-powered fleet.
“We expect chauffeur service to electrify faster than ride-hailing,” he says. “Premium automakers are bringing more EVs to market and the chauffeur industry adopts new vehicle technology first. Chauffeurs will find that EVs lower daily costs, reduce inside and outside noise, and offer the latest assistive driving technology.”
The next step for Blacklane is to expand across Europe, before taking on the North American market, continuing its sustainability goal and avoiding emissions instead of offsetting them.