BMW kicked off its DriveNow car sharing service in its home country last year to see if urban EV rentals would catch on. Something must have clicked in Germany, as the automaker is exporting the concept to the San Francisco Bay Area as of September. DriveNow's initial fleet of 70 ActiveE vehicles will rely on a different business model after getting its American visa: the service drops the strictly by-the-minute model of the German operation in favor of a $12 base fee for a half-hour's trip, with a 32 cents per minute rate kicking in only during longer drives. Travelers will have to drop off the cars at specified stations, too. There's a consolation for the trouble through a ParkNow reservation service, which locks in a parking space at a guaranteed rate and navigates there through an iPhone app or the web. Just be aware that those spaces will be limited -- only eight DriveNow stations and 14 ParkNow lots are active, which doesn't afford a lot of free roaming even after discounting the lack of immediate plans for other US cities. We're nonetheless glad that Bay Area locals without their own ride will have an easier time staying green for their cross-city jaunts.
BMW Group launches premium car sharing in US
Munich/San Francisco. The BMW Group has now extended its premium car sharing program DriveNow to the US. DriveNow starts out in San Francisco with 70 electric vehicles. The innovative mobile parking solution, ParkNow, will debut in the Californian city in September.
Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for BMW Sales and Marketing: "The BMW Group not only manufactures premium automobiles, but also develops a range of services to meet the growing need for flexible mobility solutions in urban areas. The launch of DriveNow and ParkNow in San Francisco and other cities is part of our commitment to the development of new mobility offerings, which will reduce the level of pollutant emissions and traffic congestion and improve quality of life for residents."
Seventy fully-electric, zero-emission BMW ActiveE cars will be located at nine DriveNow stations across the entire city for the launch of DriveNow in San Francisco. Customers register online or in person and can then use the DriveNow website or a mobile app to locate and reserve an available vehicle. The vehicle can be returned to the pick-up location or any other DriveNow station – so one-way trips are also possible, when needed. Through a partnership with the Californian company Coulomb Technologies and use of its ChargePoint network, drivers can easily locate the nearest charging point, in case they need to charge the vehicle during their unlimited rental. Parking and charging at DriveNow stations are free. Coulomb Technologies is the supplier behind the online network, ChargePoint. This, the world's largest charging network, consists of independently-owned electric-vehicle charging stations.
The DriveNow premium car sharing programme is a modern mobility concept that combines top-quality vehicles and service with simple, flexible usage. DriveNow is the first car sharing concept to focus consistently on highly-efficient premium vehicles and comprehensive service. DriveNow was launched in Germany in June 2011 as a car sharing joint venture between the BMW Group and the car rental company Sixt AG. DriveNow now has around 45,000 members and is available in Munich, Berlin and Düsseldorf and, from the autumn, also in Cologne. In the US, DriveNow is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BMW Group.
The electronic mobile parking service ParkNow allows users to reserve a parking space in advance, at a guaranteed, clearly-defined rate in accordance with the driver's personal preferences. Customers can either use the ParkNow iPhone app to find a parking space, or reserve one, pay for it and get directions directly to it through the ParkNow website. This reduces both the time involved in finding a parking space and the environmental impact from pollutant emissions. 14 ParkNow stations are currently set up in and around San Francisco. ParkNow is a joint venture between BMW i Ventures and Urban Mobility.
The BMW Group offers DriveNow and ParkNow under its BMW i sub-brand. BMW i also delivers innovative mobility services that reinforce the BMW parent brand's position as a sustainable, future-oriented brand. The BMW i brand comprises, in particular, the two revolutionary new vehicles, the BMW i3 and BMW i8, which will come onto the market in 2013 and 2014 respectively. These two models will be the first series-produced vehicles specially built with electric engine and electric hybrid drive train.
The venture capital company BMW i Ventures was founded in 2011 under the BMW i sub-brand, to provide financial support for companies developing mobility solutions for problems in densely-populated cities worldwide. The company aims to enhance individual mobility and is specialised in the areas of mobile connectivity and location-based services. BMW i Ventures is primarily focused on providing top-class mobility services. This also involves solutions that are not designed exclusively for the automobile.
DriveNow website: www.drive-now.com