BMW launches a luxury ridesharing service in Seattle

The company is taking on Uber and Lyft directly.

BMW is taking on Lyft and Uber directly with the launch of a new ridesharing program. ReachNow, which up until now was just a car-sharing service available in Seattle and Portland, is expanding into ridesharing in the city of Seattle. Through an app, people in the city can hail a professional driver (or schedule one up to seven days in advance). This means it is competing with Uber's black car service, rather than the less expensive UberX.

The drivers are full-time employees (hired by third-party transportation companies, not BMW), and passengers can customize their ride when they order a car. Car temperature, radio station and even the driver's level of chattiness are all subject to preferences. Drivers will arrive in either a BMW X1 or a BMW 3 Series. The cost, at $2.40 per mile plus 40 cents a minute (with no surge pricing), is catering to a more luxury conscious consumer base.

The company is specifically interested in operating these two services -- ridesharing and car sharing -- side by side in one city to see which people use in any given situation. Car ownership in cities is declining in favor of services like ReachNow; by understanding people's preferences, BMW hopes to position itself at an advantage with this demographic in the future.

The question is, can BMW compete with services like Lyft and Uber? That remains to be seen. However, it will be interesting to follow this program and see whether BMW chooses to expand it to other cities.