BMW to expand DriveNow from Bay Area to other US cities

Article by Anita Panait, on September 3, 2013

BMW is planning to expand its DriveNow car-sharing scheme to cities in the United States that will allow its electric vehicles to be picked up and dropped off on public streets. The program is currently ongoing only in the San Francisco Bay Area, where its boasts of a fleet of 70 1-series coupe-based ActiveE EVs and 2,000 registered users.

According to Richard Steinberg, chief executive of DriveNow USA, BMW started the program in San Francisco because the Bay Area is a car-sharing hotbed. He remarked that while BMW operates DriveNow in four European cities that allow the vehicles to be left on public street, San Francisco "hasn't embraced A to B car sharing."

He said that in the Bay Area, BMW are required to use parking garages or other private areas for its DriveNow vehicles. The carmaker has also installed chargers at each of the 18 locations like Stevens Creek BMW in Santa Clara, California.

According to Steinberg, one of the main drivers of success for the DriveNow program is street access, noting that wherever a user wants to be, there needs to be arrangements made with municipalities. He said that having cars on the street in Europe "has created buzz and drawn new customers." He said that the big difference is visibility, since "the vehicles market themselves," noting that the cars have big decals on the side.

Steinberg said that since DriveNow has had a slow start in the US when it was launched in June 2012, he asked two Silicon Valley companies months ago to have DriveNow cars on their corporate campuses.

Now, the scheme leaves cars on four corporate campuses where the companies' employees have access to the vehicles, adding that around 50 percent of DriveNow's business is corporate. He remarked that while competition was tough, they are now "flying." DriveNow now has pickup and drop-off locations at the San Francisco and Oakland airports. [source: automotve news - sub. required]

Topics: bmw, united states

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