BMW Car-Sharing Service to Expand to More Cities

BMW i3 - H 2013

BMW i3 - H 2013

Introduced in Seattle last month, ReachNow deploys a fleet of BMW-branded cars that can be reserved via smartphone app.

BMW's fledgling car-sharing service registered more than 13,000 users following its U.S. debut in Seattle last month, the company said Monday, adding that it planned to expand the service to other U.S. cities.

ReachNow is built around a fleet of 370 BMW 3 Series, i3 and Mini vehicles that can be reserved via smartphone app.

ReachNow is a reboot of BMW's first attempt at a U.S. car-sharing service, based in San Francisco, which shuttered in 2015, and competes with Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler's much larger Car2Go, which operates in Seattle and six other American cities, including New York, using a fleet of Smart model two-seater cars. 

The concept behind the the Mercedes and BMW car-sharing services is essentially the same: Cars can be picked up and dropped off at any parking space after registering via smartphone and are frequently rented for short periods of time as needed. ReachNow charges 49 cents per minute while driving after paying a $39 one-time registration fee.

BMW said ReachNow's point of difference is that it uses the premium (albeit entry-level luxury) 3 Series sedan and $42,000 i3 electric in addition to BMW's less-exalted Mini cars in its fleet.

Car manufacturers are eager to enter the ride-sharing sphere as a hedge against evolving generational attitudes toward traditional car ownership and pressure from cities such as London and New York to quell traffic congestion by reducing or outright banning private vehicles from downtown areas. More than 1 million Americans used car-sharing services last year, according to a University of California at Berkeley study.

Last week, General Motors announced it would partner with Lyft to provide self-driving models of Chevrolet's Bolt electric car to the ride-sharing service when the technology was perfected.