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BMW Tag Team Launches Premium Car Sharing

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On: Sat, Apr 16, 2011 at 11:03AM | By: Chris Salamone

BMW Tag Team Launches Premium Car Sharing

Beginning this month, BMW and Sixt are launching a technologically advanced and incredibly practical car sharing program using the brand name DriveNow in Munich and Berlin. But BMW’s mobility concept is drastically different from other currently operating programs, such as Zipcar. DriveNow is the first brand to offer efficient premium cars and a broad range of service options. Vehicles can be dropped off anywhere within certain prearranged boundaries and randomly picked up by anyone needing to hire a car—thus speeding up the whole car sharing experience. Sixt is providing the IT know-how and rental support which DriveNow relies on.

Drivers who sign up for the program must register for a one-time fee of 29 Euros and plan to pay 29 cents per minute of use. Conveniently, the minute fee covers all costs (parking and fuel). If a car isn’t directly in front of you, or you feel lonely, or perhaps simply isolated, then registered participants can search for DriveNow vehicles on a handy Smart Phone application or via the interweb at drive-now.com. There’s just one catch.

In order to streamline the whole process, BMW and Sixt rightly decided to avoid using keys to unlock and activate the cars. Instead, registered drivers have to install a chip into their driving license which allows keyless access. Next thing you know Skynet will be driving the car for you... then what happens?

Despite my Big Android Brother concerns, the DriveNow system is much more user-friendly than competing brands. The ability to pick up and drop off a rented car anywhere has a strong appeal for big city residents who want quick movement through the concrete jungle. Ian Robertson, Board Member for BMW Sales and Marketing, stated: “As a mobility provider, the BMW Group is not simply an automobile manufacturer. There is a growing demand for flexible mobility products in urban areas. DriveNow’s premium car sharing services are aimed precisely at this gap in the market. We are aiming to launch a profitable new line of business while at the same time introducing potential new customers to our brands.” Mr. Robertson continued to say that car sharing also cuts down traffic volumes, wasted time searching for parking spots, and providing an alternative for owning an inefficient or little-used vehicle.

DriveNow will launch with approximately 300 BMW 1 Series and MINI vehicles in Munich. BMW claims that customers will usually have no more than 500 meters to walk to the nearest available vehicle. That distance will have to shrink considerably if the program ever crosses the pond to the land of the free—we have our weight to maintain.

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