For some people, nothing can match the exhilaration of the open road. Tooling around in a six-figure-priced exotic car … well that’s just about heaven on earth.
But for some, the cost of owning a highend luxury or sports car is prohibitive – or at least the cost of owning a second or third such car. And as these vehicles tend to be designed for a more recreational type of use rather than for the daily commute to the office or to tote the kids to football practice, the thought of paying for insurance, maintenance, garaging and, of course the full price of the motorcar itself, may seem ridiculous for a vehicle that will spend more time in storage throughout a typical year than tearing down the road.
Enter fractional car ownership.
Like fractional second-home ownership, fractional car ownership provides the best of both worlds: as-needed (or should we say as-desired) use of the vehicle(s) without the high costs of full-time ownership. This makes a lot of sense, as most of us spend our weekdays earning a living and don’t need the expense of what is normally a six-figure-priced car spending most of the time in either the garage at the office or at home. Instead, fractional car ownership makes luxury and sports vehicles available for long weekends in the country, vacations to seaside resort towns and jaunts into major metropolises for special events. In short, just when you want it.
Think about it: How much would you have to spend for a brand-new Maserati, Lamborghini or Ferrari? How much more would you spend on insurance? And add to that the ongoing costs of maintenance and storage. All for what, just a few weeks of driving a year? Even if you went out of your way to plan driving excursions, how much total time would they add up to?
Fractional ownership makes the math a lot more workable, just as it does for vacation homes, yachts, jets and high-end recreational vehicles.
As with other fractional products, some fractional car clubs offer an actual fraction of ownership in specific vehicles, while others are selling membership in clubs that offer the use of vehicles. Some of the fractional car programs include special rally events in resort destinations for club members to try out new vehicles and meet other enthusiasts, private racetrack venues in scenic areas with an elite club atmosphere, and days for members to test their skills on the track in unique vehicles that aren’t street legal.
A Rough Road
The global recession that followed the 2008 credit crisis was tough on many high-end and luxury markets, and fractional car ownership was no exception. The number of companies in the sector has been winnowed out – but the remaining companies have proved their resiliency and by and large are growing and expanding at a steady rate now.
And what was not so good for the industry on the whole ultimately proved beneficial for the consumer. “Basically, because of the downturn [in the economy] there is more value for the dollar spent by the consumer,” says Sia Bani, owner and general manager of Club Sportiva, a major player in the industry. “We’ve been able to price it a bit more economically.” Bani explains that by diversifying his company’s offerings (chiefly through day rentals and non-member excursions in which drivers get behind the wheel of six different exotic vehicles over a 120-mile drive), they were able to weather the recession and keep the cars on the road.
Bani says that there isn’t much competition in the California area anymore, save for the possible exception of some limousine or taxi company operators who make available a single exotic car that they own. But Club Sportiva has a seven-year history and genuine offerings, and Bani is optimistic about the future: “Already 2010 is a lot better than 2009 for us,” Bani says. “By what we’re seeing in terms of consumer spending, things are picking back up.”
Following is a look at three very different companies and what they have to offer automobile aficionados.
P1 International pioneered the concept of a private members’ club offering shared access to a fleet of supercars. With 10 years expertise in refining the concept, the club continues to offer its members an unrivalled experience with access to a stable of the finest and fastest cars.
A P1 membership is a financially astute and exciting way for car enthusiasts to gain access to a collection of the World’s finest supercars. The shared ownership model allows the substantial costs of owning and running a supercar, including depreciation, insurance, servicing and maintenance, to be shared across the Club membership. An annual membership fee provides members with access to the club’s collection of supercars for a fraction of the cost of ownership of just one supercar.
With a P1 membership you can experience the landmark events of your year with the perfect car for the occasion, and make even the ordinary an event in itself. Take in the highpoints of the English summer season – be it Henley Royal Regatta, Glyndebourne, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot or the Cartier International Polo at Guards Polo Club – in an Aston Martin DBS. Choose a Ferrari California for a late spring trip to the Cote d’Azur, where you stay in St. Tropez for a week before driving over to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix. Enjoy the timeless elegance of an Edwardian country house weekend amongst the Georgian splendor of Babington House for your late summer getaway in a Bentley Continental GTC. Celebrate your wedding anniversary in effortless style with a weekend away in the magnificent surroundings of Cliveden, in Ferrari’s flagship the 599GTB Fiorano.
The P1 team will help recommend the right car for the occasion, and deliver it in immaculate condition to your door ready for your trip. Live your life the way you want, when you want – nothing could be easier with P1.
With membership plans available from only £500 per month, you could soon be driving your dream car and benefiting all the extras that P1 can offer you.
Contact P1 International on 01372 721 711 or visit www.p1international.com for more details.
Club Sportiva was founded in early 2003 as the pioneer in the luxury car time share market. Over the past seven years, with hundreds of members, corporate and individual clients, Club Sportiva has offered sports car aficionados the ultimate exotic car driving experience – without the complications of car ownership. In 2009, the Club expanded its portfolio offering through exotic car rentals, excursions, and owner revenue sharing programs. The Club continues to grow through partnerships, enabling a presence nationwide.
Only Club Sportiva offers access to the world’s top luxury vehicles at rates far below rental. Two different memberships are available to address the requirements and desires of different individuals. Both die-hard car enthusiasts and those who simply appreciate fine vehicles will find all they are looking for in our Club.
Corporate Packages Available – Tailored to your company’s specific needs – ideal for an executive perk, corporate incentives, or client appreciation.
All Club Sportiva Memberships include the following benefits:
• Access to million-dollar exotic car collection
• Vehicle delivery available anywhere in Northern California
• Comprehensive 24/7 roadside assistance
• Access to all Club events – road rallies, track days, Member dinners, and other Member only events
• Additional services include: complimentary parking, auto detailing, dent removal, rim repair, paint protection film and more.
All new members must be at least 30 years of age, possess a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record and adequate insurance. For elite-car access, members must pass the Club Sportiva Performance Driving Academy (PDA) half-day course ($750).
For more information, email email@example.com, call 415-978-9900 or visit www.clubsportiva.com.
Club Ascari is the ultimate drivers’ club. Members have full access to all Ascari Race Resort facilities, as well as their unique advanced driving academy, race programs and the Club’s international social calendar.
Club Ascari offers three different levels of club membership: individual, family and corporate. Alternatively, for those only wishing to access the track facilities, they can provide an Annual Track Pass.
Ascari’s concierge service is available to all club members seven days a week. For help with travel plans, arranging to meet fellow club members, or organizing a day at the resort with family and friends, the concierge team is there specifically to help you.
In the heart of Andalusia in Southern Spain lies the exclusive Ascari Race Resort. Ascari is one-of a-kind – a combination of luxurious day retreat and adrenalin-packed racing circuit. It is home to the Ascari Club – a private members’ club for people united by a passion for the finer things in life and for driving … fast. On non-club days its beautiful, unbranded facility is the perfect setting for some of the world’s finest private parties, corporate events and product launches. Fernando Alonso calls the circuit “the most demanding race track in the world.” Nearly every curve is inspired by elements of the world‘s finest racing circuits, including Spa, Brands Hatch, Bathurst, Nordschleife and Silverstone.
Ascari is committed to providing the world’s finest driving experience, both for club members and private guests. They have spared no expense in creating the ultimate fleet of on- and off-track vehicles, which range from karts to 4X4s right through to Formula 1s. Ascari develops road-legal race cars from their headquarters in Banbury, UK.
Individual, family, premium and corporate Ascari Club memberships are available. The Individual Member Superior package includes:
• Five-year membership for one person
• 50 exclusive club member track days (members can cede up to 20 of their driving days for use by their guests; non-driving guests always welcome)
• Welcome pack and personalized racing suit
• Access to our Ascari Racing Academy
• 20% discount for Ascari Academy car rentals and driving programs and a special discount in case of purchase of a race car from Radical Motorsport and Lola
• Access to Ascari Club special events
• Access to Ascari off-road facilities, including 4×4 track, buggies and karts for members and their guests
• One year free parking in our garage
Joining fee: 60,000 euros*; annual fee: 13,000 euros*
*plus 16% Spanish VAT
For more information, call (+34) 952 18 71 71 or go to www.ascari.net.
Not to be confused with fractional car ownership, car-sharing is a utilitarian alternative to buying or leasing a car for people in major cities or college towns who don’t have a daily need for a motor vehicle. Rather than focusing on pleasure usage of high-end vehicles, car-sharing is more for city-dwellers who need a car for weekly trips to the supermarket and other non-daily and infrequent trips beyond walking distance or outside the range of public transit.
Car-sharing is a green concept, and its vehicles tend to reflect that niche, with smaller, gas-efficient models as well as hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles offered.
Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing service with more than 400,000 members and 7,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
As a leader in urban transportation, Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles (one can also be using a portable compressor, etc) by the hour or day to savvy city residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car in the city. Zipcar has major operations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Washington D.C., and Vancouver.
With Zipcar’s revolutionary technology, reserving, accessing and using a Zipcar is as easy as getting cash from an ATM. In minutes or up to a year in advance, members can reserve Zipcars online or by phone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Zipcar members have automated access to Zipcars using a “Zipcard” to simply unlock the door and drive away. Rates are as low as $6 per hour and $60 per day, with gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance included. Zipcar also offers frequent driver and business (Zipcar for Business) programs with additional discounts.
Each Zipcar takes over 15-20 personally owned vehicles off the road. Members of Zipcar and car sharing programs report a 47% increase in public transit trips, a 10% increase in bicycling trips and a 26% increase in walking trips. With Zipcar, members are more likely to take advantage of all methods of transportation. Zipcar members use cars only when they need to, and often walk or bike more, resulting in healthier residents.
Zipcar partners with leading developers to provide its exclusive access to Zipcar memberships and to place Zipcars onsite at select properties. More than 30 top developers and property managers across the U.S. – including Equity Residential, Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town, Charles E. Smith and PN Hoffman – have partnered with Zipcar to distinguish their properties with car sharing on-site.
Zipcar has two pilot electric vehicle programs. The first launched in San Francisco in early 2009 with converted plug-in Toyota Prius. It launched its first Electric Vehicle Pod, including an allelectric vehicle (EV) Citroen c1 and a plugin hybrid (PHEV) Toyota Prius in July 2009 in London.
More information is available at www.zipcar.com.