BMW launches car-sharing service in Seattle

Apr 08, 2016, 3:22 PM EDT
BMW logo.
(Source: mahmoud kabiry/flickr)

BMW launched a car-sharing service  called ReachNow in Seattle, before expanding to other U.S. cities.

Reuters reports:

Germany's BMW launched on Friday a car-sharing service in Seattle, where it will offer customers the use of 370 BMW and Mini vehicles, before expanding to other cities in the United States. Established carmakers worldwide are looking for ways to stay relevant for a generation of drivers that increasingly prefer the convenience of using car-sharing and ride-service companies offered by a string of new technology rivals such as Uber [UBER.UL] Zipcar and IGO. "Our customers rightly expect uncomplicated and fast solutions to their individual mobility needs, especially in metropolitan regions," Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW's board member responsible for mobility services, said. The service, called ReachNow, will offer several options, including short-term rental, delivery service, chauffeur service or longer-term rental. Car sharing can also be made available to closed groups such as companies or entire residential complexes, BMW said. Users will be able to unlock and use the cars using their smartphones. Consultants Roland Berger say the market for car sharing will grow by 30 percent a year and generate revenue of between 3.7 billion euros and 5.6 billion euros ($4.2 billion to $6.3 billion) by 2020.

The Seattle Times notes:

The service puts BMW in competition with Car2Go, the car-sharing program using tiny, two-door Smart cars that has boomed in Seattle since it launched more than three years ago. ReachNow will expand to three more cities within the year, and plans to eventually operate in 10 North American cities. The service is the initial piece of a larger mobility program for BMW, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, company board member. Eventually, BMW will add a car service that comes with certified drivers and a way for BMW owners to rent out their own cars, he said. “We will be covering all the mobility needs our customers have,” Schwarzenbauer said.

The Wall Street Journal writes:

Like the service’s European cousin, ReachNow vehicles will be distributed throughout the city rather than at a central pickup point. BMW plans to offer the service in other U.S. cites at a later date. Renting a ride will cost 49 cents a minute and customers will be required to register with ReachNow and pay a one-time registration fee of $29. ReachNow will also offer a chauffeur service—ReachNow Black—that will launch at a later date. There will also be a delivery service, allowing users to order a ReachNow vehicle and have it delivered to them at an airport, at home, or another destination. The service will be available via smartphones. BMW’s technology partner is the San Francisco-based startup RideCell.