BMW on Friday launched its own car sharing service. It’s only available in one market right now but, at least to me, it seems to show the increase interest among automakers who want to provide on-demand services. An early foot-in-the-door on this industry could help position carmakers such as BMW for a new fully-automated car business, where cars may one day be called upon as needed and chauffeur drivers to where they need to go. Daimler has a similar car-sharing service, for example.
BMW’s service, dubbed “ReachNow” is only available in Seattle to start. You’ll need to download a special ReachNow application and then register an account to get started. Drivers will pay by the minute for each car, with prices starting at $0.41/per minute during the early promotional period. That will increase to $0.49 per minute eventually, and BMW says you’ll pay $0.30/minute when the car is parked.
There are rate caps, too, so you don’t rack up a huge bill when you’re taking a road trip. A rental for up to 3 hours will set you back $50, while you’ll pay $80 for access up to 12 hours or $110 up to 24 hours.
Several cars are available including the BMW i3, the Mini 2-door and the BMW 328xi. When you’re ready to drive, just find a car in the app, walk up to it – double check there’s a green light meaning the car is open for driving, then hop in. “Fuel/charging, insurance, and parking at public meters within the ReachNow Home Area is always included in our per-minute price,” BMW said.
When you’re finished, just take it back to the car’s “Home Area” – a general downtown area with free parking – and end the trip.