Launched in San Francisco last year, Luxe takes on the job of parking its customers’ cars for them – and returning them later – at short notice.

Luxe offers a personal on-demand car valet service

If it is to function properly, the city of the future will need to sort out a number of issues, one of the most challenging of which is getting around town. Managing road traffic could be an ever-increasing headache, given that people are now flocking to cities in increasing numbers. In 2014, for the first time in human history, there were more people living in urban areas than in the countryside. Nor is there any indication that this trend will be reversed. So mobility management within cities will need to adapt to the prevailing population trend. Very few people nowadays believe that future transport will continue to be based on private cars, with many experts stressing the need both to develop better urban transport networks and pursue the kind of car-sharing initiatives that are already on offer, while some see fleets of self-driving electric taxis entirely replacing private road vehicles. However, it is easy to overlook the fact that a major cause of road congestion in urban areas is the difficulty of finding a parking spot. “Some 30% of all traffic jams in San Francisco are down to people driving around looking for a place to park,” points out Rogelio Choy, Chief Business Officer at Luxe Valet. Launched in San Francisco last year autumn, the company offers an on-demand valet parking service for all.

An app that enables you to get your car parked

All you have to do is download the app, register, and enter your bank card details.  Then, whenever you are heading for an urban destination you can use the app to pinpoint where your car will be on the integrated map and request that a Luxe parking valet come and pick it up and park it for you at one of the local parking garages with which the company has partnerships. Later on, when you want your wheels back, you tell the app where you would like to pick it up and a Luxe driver will meet you there with your vehicle. You can make the payment – including any tip you want to give – in-app.  “In many cities finding a place to park your car can quickly turn into a nightmare. Our app means you can save a lot of time,” argues Rogelio Choy. Launched in autumn 2014, Luxe now operates in nine cities in the United States. The service is designed to appeal to anyone and everyone, but Choy claims that many of Luxe’s regular customers are in fact professional drivers. The average user calls on the service twice a week. The cost varies according to the city and the degree of difficulty finding a parking spot. In San Francisco, for example, the price is $5 an hour.

A luxury service now available to everyone

At the moment Luxe valets work on a freelance basis, but the company hopes eventually to be able to offer them employee status, perhaps as soon as early 2016, predicts Rogelio Choy. Since the launch, business has grown rapidly, increasing by 40% over the last few months. Today Luxe valets park around a thousand cars a day countrywide. Choy attributes part of the startup’s success to the performance of the algorithm designed to put users and valets in touch with each other. In addition to parking the vehicle, Luxe has recently added extra services, such as washing your car and topping up the tank. This San Francisco startup is very much part of the general trend towards making a service that has traditionally been restricted to the well-off available to all, in pretty much the same way as Uber set out to make chauffeur-driven cars available to the general public.

By Guillaume Renouard