The peer-to-peer car sharing startup FlightCar, co-founded by Indian American entrepreneur Rujul Zaparde, has been acquired by Mercedes-Benz.
The South San Francisco, Calif.-based company — initially of nearby Millbrae — announced July 14 that it was closing operations all 12 of its locations.
FlightCar had served all three San Francisco Bay Area airports, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and Denver, among others.
Co-founded by Zaparde in 2012, the company allowed members to park for free at any participating airports while the company rented out their car when they left town. Rentals through FlightCar were fully insured and the company provided complete car cleaning services, regardless if the car was rented.
The company paid car owners when their cars were rented based on mileage driven. The rates depended on the make, model and year of the car, but the renter’s fees were considerably less than typical rental car companies.
In the July 14 statement, FlightCar said it would not be accepting new reservations, and all the stations would be closed within a few weeks.
In July 2015, the company announced the launching of its app to “revolutionize airport parking” (see previous India-West story here: http://bit.ly/2aks1PE).
“Our technology will now be a part of the business innovation division at (Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America), the innovation lab for new mobility services. We are excited to be part of Mercedes-Benz’s future shared mobility projects,” it said.
“We believe that people around the world can be more self-reliant by sharing their resources to improve society, and we truly appreciate the community that came together to share and rent each other’s unique cars. We thank all of our customers for being a part of our journey, and we look forward to a new future,” the statement concluded.
The company, however, had dealt with some issues early on. In 2013, three cars were stolen from its Millbrae storage facility and later the Millbrae City Council ordered the company to shut down its location due to code violations.
The claims by the council were disputed, leading to FlightCar filing a lawsuit against the city. However, the company eventually relocated.
Additionally, Zaparde is the lone one among the three co-founders remaining with the company.
Despite many bad customer reviews, FlightCar managed to rake in tens of millions of dollars in Series A and Series B funding rounds.
The price of the company’s acquisition by Mercedes-Benz was not disclosed.