NEW CAR-SHARING SCHEME: DriveNow offers customers the ability to pick up and drop one of its vehicles, such as BMW's battery i3 (inset), "anywhere" within selected London boroughs. Image: DriveNow.com, BMW
LONDON, England - BMW and mobility specialist Sixt have launched a flexible car-sharing service, called DriveNow, in London, England.
The service already has more than 360 000 customers in Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna and San Francisco). It will now service three London boroughs - Islington, Hackney and Haringey with more boroughs to join in 2015.
A one-time registration fee equivalent to about R520 gives DriveNow customers access to a fleet of 210 (rising to 300 in 2015) BMW 1 Series and Minis. In 2015 the fleet will be expanded with the addition of 30 electric BMW i3s.
DROP IT ANYWHERE
According to BMW, DriveNow is flexible and spontaneous car-sharing as location and booking are free. The automaker said: "Cars have no fixed bay to return to and can be dropped anywhere in the boroughs."
The DriveNow App (available on iOS and Android devices) is used by customers to locate and open their nearest car or they simply use their customer card to unlock and activate a car they’ve seen on the street.
Their driving experience is then tailored to their needs as they pay only for the minutes they drive (at R6.86 a minute with an hourly cap of R353 to drive a DriveNow car, or from R5.63 with DriveNow savings packages) and can drop the car for as long as they want, wherever they want.
Customers use the app to end their booking, making the vehicle available for another traveller.
The service allows customers to park in "any legal on-street parking space", including all residential parking zones.
'FAIRLY NICHE SERVICE'
DriveNow’s unique "drop anywhere" service makes it possible to use DriveNow even for one-way trips – opening up a whole new range of uses for car-sharing.
Joseph Seal-Driver, UK head of DriveNow, said: "Car-sharing has really begun to capture Londoners' imagination but it’s still a fairly niche service.
"Londoners have told us that current services don’t reflect how they live and move. Our goal is for DriveNow’s introduction of a location and booking-free, drive-by-the-minute, park anywhere service will act as the tipping point in transforming car sharing into a mainstream mobility choice for Londoners."
Peter Schwarzenbauer, a BMW board member, added: "DriveNow is already an international success with more than 360 000 regular customers in Europe and America and we are delighted to launch it in London, Europe’s largest city.
"DriveNow gives Londoners instant access to highly desirable cars, perfect for the city, in an innovative and entirely flexible way. This programme is part of the BMW Group’s strategic response to the growth of urban living and shared ownership.
"Our aim is to expand it into about 15 more cities in Europe and about 10 in North America."
Alexander Sixt, MD of Sixt, added: "We believe location and flexible car-sharing are the future for busy global capitals which speaks volumes for the potential of ourservice in London."
KEEP THE CITY MOVING
Ben Plowden, director of strategy and planning for the Transport for London group (TFL), commented: "The Mayor and TFL has long supported the growth of car-sharing across London. The arrival of DriveNow into London will help support growth in sustainable urban mobility while keeping the city moving.”
The first 1000 customers to sign up for DriveNow membership will be able to register free using the code "LONDON" when registering at www.uk.drive-now.com, saving themselves R513. They additionally receive 30 free minutes for using DriveNow.
Find out more about the DriveNow programme.