BMW Group has launched its car-sharing service -- DriveNow -- in London, United Kingdom, in partnership with rental firm Sixt. DriveNow allows users to locate and open their nearest car by card or via a mobile phone app, following a one-time registration fee. The service will commence operations in three boroughs in North London, with users allowed to return vehicles anywhere within the zone.
Initially, users will have access to 210 units of BMW 1 series and Mini Countryman models, and eventually can also drive any 30 electric i3 compact hatchbacks in the first quarter of 2015. BMW plans have around 300 DriveNow cars in London for the full year 2015.
According to Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member with responsibility for mobility services, told Reuters that the carmaker had learned lessons on how to bring the service to London. DriveNow already operates in the United States, Germany and Austria and has over 360,000 users globally.
He remarked that BMW will start the scheme in the UK on a smaller scale and prove that it could be successful. He added that once success is proven, the business can expanded step by step organically.
BMW’s launch of the service in the UK comes almost six months after Daimler AG pulled out a similar scheme -- Car2Go – from the country. Daimler cited the UK’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership.
The carmaker experienced difficulties in coordinating its network of "free-floating" parking spaces across non-adjoining London authorities. DriveNow, however, plans to bypass this hurdle by initially operating from only one zone in North London.