Published November 26, 2008

Rent a sports car? Now you can

Luxe Car Rental, the first such outfit in Singapore, is filling a niche in the market


A RUSSIAN businessman has started Singapore's first exotic car rental company. Pavel Zotov has opened Luxe Car Rental to offer high-performance sports cars for rental at rates ranging from $688 to $2,788 a day.

Mr Zotov: 'We are the only professionally operated luxury sports cars rental provider in Singapore ... No one has done it before although it is actually a simple formula.'

For now, there are four models to choose from - three convertibles in the form of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, Maserati Spyder and Porsche Boxster S, and a coupe, the Porsche Carrera 911 S.

A Ferrari F430 will also be available from early next year, according to Mr Zotov, 37, who says he is targeting a total of 10 cars. When that will be accomplished 'depends on the market'.

'It is a bit soft now,' he says. He declines to reveal how much he has pumped into the business - he is the sole shareholder of Luxe Car Rental - but it should cost at least $5 million when he has amassed the planned 10 cars. Of the first four units, only the 911 was bought new. The rest are used but less than three years old and still under warranty.

Mr Zotov says he opened Luxe Car Rental earlier this month to fill a niche. Although exotic rentals are common in the US and Europe, they are not in this part of the world.

'We are the only professionally operated luxury sports cars rental provider in Singapore,' he says. 'No one has done it before although it is actually a simple formula.'

With lifestyles changing, he believes there will be demand from those who have always longed to drive a supercar.

'With the high cost and depreciation of owning such a car in Singapore as well as its under-utilisation, wouldn't it be a good idea to rent one instead?' he asked.

Depending on the model chosen, customers have to be older than either 27 or 30 years, with a minimum of three or five years of driving experience respectively. A one-hour familiarisation session is also required before they can take the wheel.

Mr Zotov first visited Singapore in 2000 and after several trips, decided to invest here. A former IT professional with a Masters degree in applied mathematics, he has been importing and selling used cars in Moscow since 1996. He is also a partner in a European car rental firm with branches in Germany and France. This rental business began by offering basic car models but later expanded to chauffeur-driven limousines and sports car hire.

He explains that he chose Singapore to offer his upmarket rentals because the republic is 'an attractive place to do business'. 'It is a fast growing city with a fast growing economy and the environment is good for business. Also, Singapore is quite safe and secure. That does not mean there is no risk but the potential is there.'

This is in contrast to Moscow, where he would not set up a similar business because of the high auto theft rate, he adds with a laugh.

Russian friends living here helped him go about setting up the business about six months ago and also in finding a showroom at 120 Lower Delta Road.

Mr Zotov says one particular challenge was getting vehicle insurance.

'No one dared to provide insurance for high-performance rentals because they have never done it before,' he says.

But he persisted and after almost five months, he managed to work out the insurance issues with a broker.

He says his half a dozen customers so far have never driven an exotic car before their visit to Luxe Car Rental. And that is his target customer, along with tourists and expatriates.

Mr Zotov says: 'For those who have always dreamed about driving a car like that, one they thought they never would, now it is possible.'

For more information, call Luxe Car Rental at 6278-7800