Blancfleet Hopes to Be the Supercar Version of ZipCar!

Blancfleet, a New York City-based supercar-rental company, is really, really cool.  While most of us can’t afford to buy a supercar, let alone drive one for a day or more, Blancfleet makes driving one for an extended period of time possible by using a timeshare program very much like ZipCar.  Blancfleet founder Charles Polanco says that “Blancfleet aims to become the next ZipCar,” though your average ZipCar drop-off point likely won’t have a Nissan GT-R, Pagani Huayra, or Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.  Many supercar rental companies charge fees that would give even Bill Gates a nightmare.  Blancfleet, however, uses crowdfunding to get the large fees one normally sees down to (relatively) sane levels.  As Blancfleet stated in May, the company actually BUYS the cars, rather than leasing the cars from the automaker for a certain period of time.  Most other supercar rental companies lease the cars for three years so they can get the new versions when they come out.  Blancfleet allows each car a certain amount of rental hours per year, and money made from these hourly rental periods is used to pay for the cars (just like ZipCar).

ZipCar has become wildly popular with urbanites who don’t want the hassle of having to own a car.  With ZipCar, you rent a car for a certain amount of hours, go to a designated drop-off and pick-up point, and the car is waiting for you.  ZipCar users pay the fee either electronically or on-site through a ZipCar representative.  Paperwork is filled out online once unless something personal changes.  ZipCar is marginally more expensive than renting a car through, say, Hertz, because the insurance costs are built into the rental fee.

Back to Blancfleet.  Blancfleet knows that it can be extremely difficult to obtain insurance to rent a supercar.  The potential damage that could happen to any given supercar in the Blancfleet fleet could easily eclipse the average price of a house or condominium.  For the renter of the car, liability insurance can only cover so much, except in rare instances.  The massive deposits required by many other supercar rental firms mean that even a scratch on a given rented supercar could cost the renter thousands of dollars.  To make the rental process more attractive, Blancfleet self-insures all of it’s cars – all costs are mushed into the rental fee, and the risk of damage is spread through the hundreds of people who have crowdfuned Blancfleet.  This means that renting a supercar through Blancfleet is far less expensive than renting it through the Hertz Dream Car fleet.

Of course, renting a supercar and cheap don’t exactly rhyme.  If you want to drive around New York City in a Bugatti Veyron or cruise the streets of Fort Lauderdale in a Pagani Huayra, you’ll have to cough up $1,325 and $1,040 an hour, respectively.  That is, once enough people pledge enough hours to afford the car’s $1 million+ dollar price tags.  However, you could have a LOT of time in a $83-an-hour Nissan GT-R, or even a $204-an-hour Ferrari 458 Italia.  Both the GT-R and the Ferrari are already in Blancfleet’s fleet.  But, the important thing is that you’ll be able to rent a Pagani Huayra or Bugatti Veyron – that is, if you skip the bills for a month (or three).  Plus, you’ll feel like a million bucks driving it around!  Or, you could just stop daydreaming and head over to Blancfleet’s website at https://blancfleet.com/Home.aspx and sign yourself up for a rental period.  Just let me know when you do.  Sign-up looks to be pretty straightforward and quick, so do it NOW!

The current Blancfleet fleet includes:  Mercedes-Benz S550, Tesla Model S, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes-Benz G550, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Porsche 911, and a Nissan GT-R.  Prices for the cheapest vehicle – the GT-R start at $83 an hour.  Blancfleet has not yet bought the Veyron or the Huayra, but is planning to do so soon.  Until then, you’ll have to settle for something equally as cool – the Tesla Model S.

Blancfleet is currently only based in New York City, but is currently building a Blancfleet drop-off and pick-up office in Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

A Lincoln Town Car for the Modern Day

Fans of Ford’s Panther platform will no doubt cry “blasphemy” and a whole other host of names.  Haters gonna hate.  If you’re a Panther fan, keep it to yourself and read this blog post, or come back next Tuesday.

Not only does the Hyundai Equus Ultimate serve as Hyundai’s flagship, it also costs as much as a premium midsize sedan like the 2014 Cadillac CTS.  I’m not suggesting a comparison – the CTS is in a completely different league than the Equus.  While Hyundai’s execution of a fullsize flagship sedan is good, it’s not quite as good as the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li.  It’s just that you can’t really build a value-oriented flagship and expect it to compete against manufacturers that have at least 25 years of practice.  It’s the equivalent of In-n-Out going completely vegan.  You just don’t expect it to be good.

Panther platform enthusiasts will be quick to point out that the 12.3-18.3 inch-shorter Equus doesn’t have body-on-frame construction.  The Equus DOES, however, have a 2.7-inch longer wheelbase than ANY Panther platform car.  Like the Town Car, the Equus is styled much more conservatively than the love-it-or-hate-it Cadillac XTS and bulbous Lincoln MKS.  The Equus has a roomy, comfortable interior filled with amenities and options that the Lincoln Town Car never offered.  It’s also rear-wheel-drive, and it’s got a smooth, very powerful V8 shared with the Hyundai Genesis.  It’s the only modern car to have clear Lincoln Town Car DNA in it.  It’s obvious who Hyundai is trying to attract.

Rear seat passengers can now individually control the infotainment system, look up restaurants on the go, and even enter destinations while moving.  All 2014 Equus models get a standard three-zone climate control system (driver, passenger, rear passengers) standard.  Ultimate models now seat five people instead of four.  Very few of its competitors offer four seats instead of five in top-of-the-line models.  Ultimate models also come with cruise control with a unique 0 mph stop-start function, front, rear, and multi-view cameras.  It also comes with a proximity key that turns the exterior and interior lights on and off, as well as unfolding the side mirrors.  The doors automatically close a la minivan, and power lumbar support for rear outboard passengers.

For those drivers who want to have performance, fear not.  The engine is a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8.  The front bushings are completely new.  As for the Sport and Tour modes, they have been revised for improved ride and handling, respectively.

Because its cabin is so insulated, and its powertrain is so smooth, the optional heads-up display is justifiable.  Since the suspension is engineered for comfort, lots of brake dive and body roll make it less than ideal for back road barnstorming.  It also probably diminishes driver confidence on the street, especially in the city.

While the Equus isn’t quite up to par with the Lexus LS460 in terms of interior quality, it has a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with separate lumbar controls.  The front passenger seat has 10 ways to make you more comfortable.  Outboard rear seats have four ways and lumbar.  Like the S-Class, the Equus has many of its front and rear switches conveniently located high on the doors.

Up until the end of the 2013 model year, the Equus Ultimate only sat four people.  It had a massage function for the driver and the right rear passenger (where many passengers sit).  The 2014 model offers seating for five people, but no massaging seats.  The 2014 model also has controls for the:  Infotainment system, rear climate control, and rear seats on the fold-down center armrest in the rear seat.  A “Relax” button moves and tilts the front passenger seat forward before reclining the rear passenger seat.  The “Return” button returns both seats to their previous positions.  Now that both rear seats recline, the available power footrest is no more.

Like the Lincoln Town Car, the Hyundai Equus Ultimate offers full-size space and all of the luxury touches one would expect in a flagship.  Another similar thing between these two vehicles designed for those like to be chauffeured around – neither lives up to the standard set by the Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S550, and BMW 750i/Li.  While the value-oriented Equus can be compared to a modern Lincoln Town Car, it does have something that the big Lincoln never had – a 429-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic transmission.  In my mind, the Hyundai Equus picks up right where the Lincoln Town Car left off.  Now, the one thing that Hyundai has left – the monumental task of convincing everybody the virtues of a bargain-priced flagship sedan.

 

The Best Ads of 2013 (and 2014!)

2013 was a great year for many of us auto enthusiasts, and the automakers were great in their ads.  I’d like to share my favorite ads of 2013 with you.  I also found a couple of good ads during the Super Bowl, so those are included for your viewing enjoyment!  Enjoy!

Mercedes Benz Chicken Ad:  Mercedes-Benz is right up there with Volvo in terms of how amazing their safety tech, as well as other features is.  To demonstrate just how good the Magic Body Control (don’t ask, I don’t know the answer!) system is, Mercedes-Benz used a chicken.  Yes, a real, living chicken!  For those of you who don’t know what Magic Body Control is, Magic Body Control is a fancy name for a high-tech suspension system.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfgBA8Iw9C8

Jaguar Eats Chicken Jaguar USA Ad:  In an obvious thumbing of its nose to Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar shot a laugh-out-loud ad of a chicken being moved around by a Mercedes-Benz engineer dancing around to some groovy music.  The chicken gets eaten by a real-life Jaguar.  Not the car, mind you.  The Jaguar from the jungles of South America.  If that grosses you out, there’s no blood, just a LOT of feathers, and one really unhappy Mercedes-Benz engineer…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgJVIC9QSw

I couldn’t find the Mercedes-Benz ad that made fun of Jaguar.  It’s a shame, because it was a very funny commercial.  It showed a 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550 going along a dusty jungle road at night, when the S550 brakes to a stop.  As the S550 is stopping, the camera focuses on a jaguar (the jungle animal) running across the road, directly in front of the S550.  The S550 has a night-vision feature, which shows the jaguar bounding across the road…directly into a tree.  The Mercedes-Benz punchline?  Cat-like reflexes? We prefer Pre-Safe Braking.  If you can find this ad, please post the link to the commercial in the comments section so that other readers can enjoy it.

Kia Sorento How Babies are Born Ad:  This cute ad from Super Bowl XLVIII somehow showcases the Kia Sorento.  I don’t get how either.  But, it’s a cute commercial, and I think that you’ll enjoy it.  It shows a LOT of babies, and it’s got lots of clever CGI.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4uW4lNjW4g

Volkswagen How Volkswagen Engineers Get Their Wings Ad:  Volkswagen was pretty clever with this commercial.  It makes people laugh as Volkswagen engineers get wings.  Volkswagen used to be clever…and funny in the 1960s with their commercials, and it seems like they’ve found their clever and funny bones again.  Volkswagen engineers grow wings, and at the end, one farts a rainbow.  When you’re done laughing, watch the ad. This ad is from Super Bown XLVIIII…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns-p0BdUB5o

Chrysler 200 Bob Dylan Ad:  This ad from Super Bowl XLVIIII showcases Bob Dylan and the stylish 2015 Chrysler 200.  It has great footage, and some cool vintage footage of Dylan back in the day.  As Bob Dylan said in the commercial, “Let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland build your watches, let Asia assemble your phones.  We’ll build your cars.”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlSn8Isv-3M

Hyundai Santa Fe Every Boy’s Dream Team Ad:  This commercial is a nice one.  It’s got boys of all sizes, ages, and races jammed into it, and I like the vibe of this commercial.  While I don’t get how it showcases the Santa Fe, I still like this commercial.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlSn8Isv-3M

That’s all that I have for you, but I think that this should be enough for you.  If you have any that you’d like to have others see, please post them in the comments section.  I’ll watch them!