Settled in a quiet part of the San Fernando Valley, right off Oxnard Street, there’s an unassuming car garage that sits on the edge of a small parking lot. While the building’s weathered gray exterior draws little attention, the inside of the facility evokes the feeling of a Hollywood movie set.
Against a backdrop of red brick tiles and LED-lit signs, the interior showcases some of the most luxurious and exotic supercars around—from brightly colored Lamborghinis and Ferraris to high-end SUVs, Rolls-Royces, and Mercedes Benz G-Wagens.
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This hideout is home to Drive LA, an exotic car-sharing platform that allows well-to-do customers—typically athletes, entertainers and executives—to rent from a collection of luxury automobiles. Drive LA also allows customers to rent on a long-term basis with flexible terms or offer their own inactive sports cars to join the fleet and potentially yield a profit as someone else drives it.
Most customers don’t know that at times the Drive LA showroom contains some notable athletes’ cars, too, from Chicago Bears’ tight end Marcedes Lewis to Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfielder Tommy Pham. These athletes are also investors in the marketing and fleet-management company.
For decades, athletes with money to burn and underdeveloped investment prowess have been lured by the temptation of buying luxury cars, and have squandered their earnings. However, a handful of athletes are changing the victim narrative by letting these cars drive meaningful dividends while also investing in the future of car sharing.
Toronto Raptors forward and Drive LA investor Thaddeus Young says he wouldn’t spend loads of cash on a flashy ride. He was drawn to Drive LA by the monetary benefit of allowing outside customers to make payments and finance nice cars while retaining the ability to drive one of them when he leaves Canada for a brief stay in warm LA.
“If I want go buy a [fancy] car, now I can turn that car into an asset that makes me money over the course of time,” said Young, who is also the founder of Reform Ventures, a private investment fund. “And when I want to drive it, I can just have it shipped back to me for the two, three months that I’m home [in Texas] when I’m not in season.”
The emerging experience company, which has leased more than 75 cars in its fleet to customers, has some high-profile backers, who see great value in letting others drive their supercars when they’re not around.
Without the liabilities that come with owning your own fleet of cars, the company acts more like an asset protection program that facilitates connections between dealerships and their customers, who have the chance to rent these luxury cars while building their own credit.
Drive LA CEO Ben Halem believes car sharing is the future as drivers look for more reliable and convenient options. Some studies show more consumers in urban areas are viewing car ownership as an unnecessary expense and have grown curious about alternatives that free them from responsibility and upkeep of a gas-guzzling, devaluing asset.
Creating another option for wealthier individuals—utilizing otherwise idle cars—is perhaps the next step toward closing the mobility satisfaction gap. And companies like Drive LA look to provide customers the chance let their high-performance cars make a profit, and even potentially pay for themselves.
“A Honda Civic could cost you more than a Ferrari out of your pocket,” Halem said in an interview.
Backed by changes in consumer attitudes and spending habits, the car-sharing market is projected to exceed $11 billion by next year, according to Global Market Insights Inc. Additionally, the global car-sharing market is expected to grow to $6 billion by 2030, according to a recent report from VynZ Research.
Antimatter Business Partners founder Rashaun Williams, a key investor in Drive LA, has put together athlete investors who have venture capital interest in the company. Young and a handful of other athletes, who have varying stakes, are seeing monthly distributions from their investments while also keeping the option of a high-end car delivered at their convenience.
“It’s almost like doing a real estate deal in short term,” Young said. “You’re going to collect good returns. The only difference is that this is a depreciating asset, but you’re still getting money on the back end.”
Drive LA intentionally keeps a low profile, spreading through word-of-mouth and social media. The two-year-old company shows off its fleet via influencers—Cindy Prado and Daniel Mac have both posted with cars from Drive LA—and by dropping off top-notch cars at upscale hotels or airport tarmacs.
Drive LA—LA stands for luxury autos, despite its Los Angeles origins—will soon open a second garage in Scottsdale, Ariz. The emerging company, which hopes to partner with car manufacturers and create various data-collecting programs, plans to launch locations further east, including in New York City, which has the nation’s largest concentration of millionaires.
In the meantime, the place continues to serve as an example of what intentional investment can bring for pro athletes and celebrities, who are notorious for overspending on frivolous assets. Drive LA’s athlete investors are bucking the trend by profiting from the sharing models.
“We’ve always been taught to be users of a product,” Young said. “We’re at a stage now where we’re thinking completely different as athletes. Now we’re able to be owners of the products and brands we’re using on the day-to-day basis.”
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