Photo contributed Clockwise from lower left, the LuxRide teams includes Amy Strausser, co-owner; Mike Strausser; Founder Brady Hole and Sarah Hole, co-owner. Images provided by LuxRide
Written by Frank Lopez
While limousines have been a symbol for luxurious travel for some time, a company in Fresno is offering another option for a luxury ride.
LuxRide Inc. offers rentals for luxury vans, providing the space and comfort of a limousine, but with a longer rental time and more affordable prices.
“Instead of having to get on an app and have some random person pick you up in their own car, you can get in a luxury van, chauffeured — it’s a bit more elegant and safe,” said co-owner Sarah Hole, wife of owner and founder Brady Hole.
LuxRide launches today, and is starting off with two Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, with plans to add more vehicles as the business takes off.
The vans comfortably sit eight riders with four-bucket seats and lounge seating in the back. A van that could seat 14 people will be added to the fleet at a later date.
For entertainment, there are two Apple TVs that can each display a different show or movie, an audio system that can be played while the TVs are on, footrests that come up between the four captain chairs, and room for food storage and refrigerators.
To ensure safety, all drivers are submitted to background checks.
The van is equipped with Wi-Fi and a pull out tabletop that could serve as a workstation, which could be useful on a team business trip.
Owner Brady Hole came up with the idea after going to a wedding and having to rent a limousine for four hours, preferring something that could drop a party off and call for a pick up when the night was over.
LuxRide will have an app similar to those of other ride-share companies where you can schedule a ride. There is no minimum passenger count or hourly commitment required, as compared with limo service, which usually requires a three-hour minimum rental time.
There is a $200 package where you can get picked up and dropped off at your desired destination, and request when to be picked up and taken home. Hole said that this structure can save a customer about $600 they would have to spend for limo service, and that the driver could be doing other pick ups until the ride home is requested.
The pick-up and drop off service will be focused on the Fresno-Clovis-Madera area, and full day rentals will allow for further travel.
“We are hoping that eventually we will have more cars, and that other areas will catch on to the idea and we can franchise to different areas like San Jose and Las Vegas,” said Amy Strausser.
Indiana-based company Midwest Automotive Designs customizes the Mercedes-Benz vans. The price range for one customized van is between $130,000 to $200,000.
Currently there are four drivers working with the company.
With the school dance season coming up, there will be a special $300 package for proms that includes a pick up location, a ride to dinner and the dance, and a drive back to the final drop off.
Alcohol will not be provided in the van, but riders are allowed to bring their own alcohol and drink on the bus, but there is a prohibition on red wine to prevent stains on the carpet and upholstery.
Hole said that she has had other business owners show interest in LuxRide for transporting business clients from out of town. The team hopes to show that Fresno offers luxury and elegance that can help woo clients.
“The limo industry is absolutely solid,” Hole said. “We are not trying to take away their business at all, we are just trying to expand on what Uber and Lyft started. But instead of getting an ordinary car, you’re going to get an extraordinary van.”
Strausser said Uber does offer UberBLACK, which provides rides in luxury cars, but there are none in the Fresno area. She hopes the company can make a name as the luxury car service company for the region.
“My hope is that we can fill the cars and continue to purchase them and have five cars up and running by the end of the year,” Strausser said.