Claiming it will "disrupt the disrupters," Green Tomato Cars, which calls itself an eco-friendly car service and has found success in London, plans to go up against Uber, Lyft and other app-dispatched, ride-share companies offering an alternative to traditional taxis in the Washington, D.C.,market.
Besides the quirky name, the company hopes to stand out by offering reserved rides, transparent pricing and Wi-Fi-equipped hybrid vehicles.
Noting that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recently sent Uber and Lyft cease and desist letters, and that those companies, and others, are dealing with regulatory hurdles in California and some other states, Green Tomato also boasts that it is legal.
"We're different in that we own the cars. They're commercially insured and our contract drivers—we call them ambassadors—are fully trained and have undergone rigorous background checks," founder and Vice President Jonny Goldstone told CNBC.
With a pool of potential customers who are "thoughtful, well-educated consumers, interested in the environment and quite demanding in terms of service expectations," D.C. was Green Tomato's first pick for expansion because it was the closest fit to the London market, said Goldstone.
Paris will be the next city to get Green Tomato Cars, with Chicago, Boston and San Francisco under consideration.
"What they will need to do in order to compete," with services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, is "offer a great user experience on the app; scale to other cities quickly and be able to offer on-demand service," said PhoCusWright research analyst Maggie Rauch. "A pricing promise could be very appealing, too, as the biggest player, Uber, has managed to confuse and anger consumers with some of their surge pricing policies."
Green Tomato has 500 vehicles serving London, where competitors include Addison Lee and Uber. In Washington, Green Tomato's fleet currently has just 25 cars, but that number should triple by the fall, said Goldstone.