Set to kick off next month, BMW will launch its DriveNow program – a new kind of car sharing service that will allow for one-way trips.
Initially launched as a pilot program, San Francisco residents 21 and older will be able to rent one of the 70 ActiveE coupes distributed across nine charging stations in the city. Aside from offering a zero-emissions service, BMW is likely to find fanfare in the fact that it won’t require drivers to return those cars to their original location.
Still cheaper than owning and operating a car, let alone a BMW, the service isn’t terribly cheap. Borrowing a car costs $12 for the first half hour and 32 cents per minute after that. For comparable services like ZipCar, that might be enough to drive customers away, but that’s also because those cars need to end up in the same lot as they began.
Cutting out the return journey could make BMW’s DriveNow service viable despite fact that this service is roughly double the cost of renting a low-end ZipCar.
Alongside the DriveNow program, the company will also launch an independent service called “ParkNow,” which offers users the ability to find and reserve parking in advance of their arrival through a smartphone.
BMW will also be able to glean testing data from renters driving its ActiveE cars which will help in developing its new i Series electric cars. Currently, there are over 45,000 members using the DriveNow service in Germany and already contributing to that information bank.