Car apps are a big thing. In April of this year, BMW started a car-sharing service called ReachNow that it’s rolling out in three cities in the U.S. for 2016.
How It Works
Consumers can use a smartphone app to rent a nearby vehicle for as long as they want, whenever they would like to. Vehicles are located in most major neighborhoods of the cities where the service is offered and users can simply park the cars when they’re finished using them and walk away. Public meters and parking zones in residential areas are free to use — even if they’re right in the heart of a city’s downtown. Cars on offer include gas-powered and electric BMW 3 models, BMW i3s and MINI Coopers and Clubmans. By the end of 2016, BMW plans to add its X1 Sports Activity models in some markets. All vehicles come with heated seats, GPS navigation, audio with USB and Bluetooth connections, premium interiors and moon roofs. Some vehicles offer extra options like LED headlamps, all-wheel drive, rear-view cameras and parking distance controls.
Vehicles can be reserved in advance or right on the spot for customer convenience. Users can change their reservation times on the fly, meaning that a day trip can turn into a weekend getaway without a fear of incurring surcharges or other additional costs. Fuel, insurance and up to 200 free miles are included in ReachNow’s prices, which are set by the minute. Three pricing tiers allow users to drive for up to 3 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours, including periods of parking and non-use.
Users can park one car and drive away in another — the app and instant approval process are that simple, with most registration-to-drive times clocking in at under two minutes. Apps are available for iOS and Android operating systems and include real-time availability and monitoring information with SMS and email notification for instant updates.
Drivers simply need to be 21 or older and have a valid driver’s license, possess driving records with no major violations and have a major credit or debit card.
At the present moment, ReachNow is being offered in Seattle (including at the city’s International Airport) and Portland, with plans to expand to one other American city by the end of the year.
In Seattle, ReachNow is in 75 percent of the city’s most populous neighborhoods. Seattle’s ReachNow fleet currently totals 520 vehicles. As of May 2016 — one month after its launch — more than 13,000 Seattle residents had signed up for the car-sharing service. BMW has had talks with company management at large local employers such as Microsoft, Boeing, Expedia, Starbucks and Amazon to see if it could help employees make their job commutes easier. The company is competing with two other car-sharing services in the city — Zipcar and car2go — both of which have more users than ReachNow, but neither of which provide the instantaneousness and premium options that ReachNow does.
Long-range plans are for BMW to offer ReachNow in 10 North American markets to match its current availability in the same number of European cities under the DriveNow banner. In Europe, the DriveNow program has more than 600,000 registered users, who have driven roughly 100 million miles with its 4,000+ vehicles.
For its part, BMW sees ReachNow as a way to offer consumers limited driving experiences with its cars prior to possible purchasing or long-term leasing — especially for its new electric vehicles. Particularly for the latter models, this allows consumers an opportunity to see what real-world driving with the company’s cars is like, without making a large upfront investment. BMW also is able to learn about consumers’ driving habits and can tailor the availability of its cars and charging stations accordingly. As the program matures, more capabilities will be added to the company’s App, allowing consumers further options and providing them with more features at lower prices. BMW by Dushan Hanuska is licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike License