Can BMW master car sharing in the U.S. with more appealing, greener options on the menu? The automaker is about to try with ReachNow, a premium sharing service featuring Mini Cooper, BMW 3 Series, and the BMW i3 electric vehicles. While the automaker plots its expansion to other U.S. markets, it is establishing its base in the sharing-friendly city of Seattle, where emissions reductions are a top priority of the administration.
ReachNow will operate on the same principles as Daimler’s Car2Go and other programs, offering one-way service and charging by the minute ($0.49), hour, and day. Insurance, fuel, and parking costs are included. Charges of $0.30 apply per minute when the car is parked. Price caps are in place at $50 for three hours, $80 for 12 hours, and $110 for 24 hours, BMW said in a company statement. At some point in 2016, cars will be available to pick up and drop off at the Seattle airport, while delivery service will be another consumer-friendly feature.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray touted ReachNow as a valuable addition to the city’s car-share options while saying it also “complements our strategy to promote the use of electric vehicles across the city.” So far, the existing programs have been effective at reducing congestion. According to the Seattle Times, the city’s department of transportation (DOT) found 14% of car-sharing customers had given up their cars, taking more than 9,000 vehicles off local roads.
The DOT study also showed that Car2Go and other drivers were not leaving the cars in parking spaces for long, keeping plenty of spots free for downtown drivers. Of the many appealing things about ReachNow, the option to drive the i3 on a regular basis might top the list.
The well-reviewed i3 will be by our estimation the only electric car available in a U.S. sharing service. This model includes the range extender capable of 150 total miles with 72 miles in electric mode before switching over to the small gas engine. Charging stations available throughout Seattle should keep this car running mainly on low-emissions electricity.
Though several car-sharing programs emerged in America in recent years, none has been able to excel in all sides of the equation. Car2Go EV sharing in San Diego died because of a lack of charging infrastructure and limited range in the cars themselves; Car2Go in New York suffers because of the Smart cars’ performance issues; and ZipCar has relied mainly on round-trip service only with a less-than-exciting lineup.
ZipCar has expanded its one-way service into Los Angeles in 2016, making the company a more formidable rival for Daimler, which has enjoyed great success with Car2Go in Seattle, the No. 2 market for car-sharing in America.
However, BMW’s ReachNow has a few aces up its sleeve with the i3, BMW 328xi, and Mini Coopers in its fleet. It’s not a stretch to say Smart cars pale in comparison. While Seattle hopes to slash emissions dramatically in the coming years, the i3 can take on some of the burden. Less traffic won’t hurt, either, and local drivers will look awfully good doing their part in a ReachNow car.