After losing several frustrating battles with city officials in San Francisco, BMW shuttered its DriveNow car sharing service. The company and the city just couldn’t agree on where DriveNow customers could park their shared cars. Now, BMW has repackaged the program and drop shipped it to Seattle, where it has been renamed ReachNow. It will have 370 cars available in the Seattle area, including i3 electric cars, 3 series sedans, and MINI Coopers. The company thinks eco-friendly Seattle will be especially receptive to a car sharing service that offers electric cars.
The service is accessed via a smartphone app. BMW is waiving the $39 initial sign up fee for a limited time to help get the program off the ground in its new location. Users are charged 49 cents a minute while driving, 30 cents a minute while parked. That charge covers fuel, insurance, taxes, and parking fees. Unlike San Francisco, a ReachNow customer is welcome to use any available parking space within the ReachNow service area. During the introductory period, the cost of the program is reduced to just 41 cents a minute.
BMW also offers several extra features that are not part of other car sharing services. MINI owners may rent out their cars to ReachNow customers, for instance. The service will also provide a driver (at additional cost). Now a visitor to the city can have a personal limousine and let someone else do the driving. That could appeal to lots of travelers. Just use your app to request a car and driver at the time and location of your choosing.
BMW plans to extend the ReachNow program to the Seattle Tacoma airport, although local taxi and car rental companies may be less than pleased with the new competition. BMW says it only takes two minutes to set up an account. That means people flying in could be in a car and driving much quicker than it takes to arrange for a rental car.
ReachNow has plenty of competition from ZipCar and Diamler’s Car2Go. The car sharing concept has quite taken off in America yet, but momentum is building. BMW wants to be one of the first companies to ride the wave.
Source: CNET Road Show