Operations

iCARS Founder Ready To Sell Off Black Vehicle Division

Martin Romjue
Posted on August 12, 2016

Gary Bauer (center) conducting a demo at the 2015 LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J. Nov. 8-10.
Gary Bauer (center) conducting a demo at the 2015 LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J. Nov. 8-10.
SAN FRANCISCO --- The founder of one of the most viable and fastest growing limo-centric ride apps, which adheres to industry duty-of-care and commerical insurance standards, is getting out of the black car business.

Gary Bauer, owner and founder of iCARS and Bauer's Intelligent Transportation, sees more value and potential in building an on-demand network of chaffeured sedans and SUVs than owning and running them himself.

In an exclusive interview with LCT, Bauer said he is preparing to sell off the business entity containing his luxury sedan and SUV service in the San Francisco Bay Area region. The move comes as his iCARS has rolled out beyond its Bay Area base and seeks to tap black fleet vehicles from limousine operators nationwide.

"What we decided is that after 27 years in the black car business, when a conflict or concern arises, we will sell that part of the business," Bauer said.

Included in the sale are about 50 black vehicles, mostly Tesla S sedans, late model Cadillac Escalades, and Mercedes-Benz GL SUVs, along with Bauer's book of sedan and SUV clients. "The nice thing about it is the buyer also has the opportunity to drive for iCars," Bauer said. iCars splits its rates with participating operators and chauffeurs at 15% for iCars/85% for partners.

Bauer's Intelligent Transportation will remain as a motorcoach and minibus company oriented to Bay Area and Silicon Valley commuter shuttles for tech workers and chartered tour trips. The company for years has been focused more on the surging motorcoach sector. It ranked No. 7 on the 2016 LCT 50 Largest Fleets List at 351 vehicles, with 92 motorcoaches, 96 shuttles and minibuses, and 56 Sprinters and vans compared to 105 sedans and SUVs. Bauer explained not all of his sedans and SUVs are included in the sale, because he is constantly selling or cycling out vehicles in those fleet categories. The company's fleet policy is to keep a black vehicle no longer than three years.

iCars takes up a growing slice of Bauer's time and revenue as the service has taken hold in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Dallas, Houston, Austin, Chicago and Las Vegas, with an accessible network of about 5,000 black vehicles. Its next biggest forays in coming months will be into Atlanta, New York City, and the vast Los Angeles and Southern California region, which requires a more extensive vehicle network than in more concentrated urban areas.

Bauer emphasizes iCARS is primarily a B2B ride app oriented to the corporate and business travel market, although it readily accepts on-demand requests from individual retail riders as do other on-demand ride apps.

The company hosted its largest exhibit booth to date at last month's Global Business Travel Association Convention in Denver. The 30-ft. by 30-ft. exhibit with a wooden floor had a 14-ft. by 10-ft. riser and an elevated stage for demos. Attendance to each of the demos throughout the show well exceeded the 25 seats set up in the exhibit, sometimes numbering up to 70 people per demo, Bauer said. He said he netted about 1,000 business cards during the three-day convention.

"We talked to many potential buyers and corporate procurement officers," Bauer said. "It was one of our best GBTAs ever."

Bauer plans to host an iCars booth and demos during LCT-NLA Show East Nov. 13-15 at Harrah's Atlantic City.

Potential buyers of Bauer's Intelligent Transportation black vehicle business should contact the company's CFO, Gary Schwartz, at [email protected] The company is handling the sale directly without a broker.

Related Topics: apps, business deals, California operators, Gary Bauer, iCars, mergers & acquisitions, San Francisco operators, vehicle apps

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