Uber and Lyft‘s Virginia troubles are unlikely to resolve any time soon, and they have a new competitor in the area looking to scoop up some of their marketshare, in an eco-friendly kind of way, while they wrestle with it. The soft launch of London-based Green Tomato Cars last month marks the U.S. debut of the app-enabled car service, which uses a fleet of hybrid Toyota Prius’ and electric Tesla cars to help people get around. Although the controversy in Virginia is a coincidence, Green Tomato, named after the movie Friend Green Tomatoes, sees it as an opportunity to lure away customers to its service.
“Wherever you ride with us, it’s legal,” said Richard Moskowitz, sales and marketing director for Green Tomato in the area. “Our goal is to have more cars than anybody else out there. We have 25 cars now and will have 75 by the end of the year.”
It may have its work cut out for it with so many thrifty people choosing Uber and Lyft because they are cheaper. Moskowitz said that prices can be a little higher than traditional taxis, but added that because the prices is settled beforehand, there’s no price increases to worry about due to traffic or other conditions that extend the ride. He also said he wasn’t too worried about that being a factor in competition since in part D.C. was chosen as the first U.S. city for Green Tomato because of its history of eco-friendly companies and movements.
“It was an appealing choice because it is such a green, eco-concious city,” he said.
The efforts of the tech community aside, Uber and Lyft are not likely to be able to claim the same legality in Virginia that Green Tomato and Hailo are promoting as advantages in the near future. And despite the drawbacks of the limited fleet, like having to book ahead for now rather than having a car nearby all the time, Green Tomato does know what it’s doing. It’s out competing Uber in London and is doing well enough to plan a Paris launch soon too. Green Tomato’s ability to do the same in D.C. still has to be tested, but Moskowitz said it’s just a matter of time.
“Lots of our passengers are Uber fans,” Moskowitz said. “But they keep coming back to us.