BMW's New Car Share Lends You a Car Where You Find One, Lets You Leave It Where You Want


Photo: David Martyn Hunt under a Creative Commons license

At TreeHugger, we've been big fans of car-sharing services for a long time. ZipCar has long dominated the field, pushing the envelope recently by adding hybrid vehicles and expanding into new territory. But now it's got some tough competition: this month, BMW introduces DriveNow, its car share service that lets you pick up a car wherever you find one and drop it off wherever you like. The system is simple: you register for €29 ($42), and download the DriveNow application onto your smartphone. When you want a car, you use the app to find the nearest car, which you unlock using a chip implanted on your driver's license (cool, huh?). Go where you need to (within certain boundaries) for 29 cents per minute, park wherever you end up, and walk away. Gas and parking are free.

The system, which is debuting in Munich with 300 cars, a mix of Mini Coopers and 1-Series models, gets a thumbs up from GOOD:

It seems like an especially simple system, and the price is reasonable. At $21 per hour, it would be cheaper than a cab--even cheaper than parking in some cities. The fact that every account is linked to a driver's license will presumably deter theft and vandalism. Hopefully 300 cars will be enough to give Müncheners confidence that one will be available when they need it.

So you get the thrill of driving a BMW without the pain in your wallet or the guilt from your environmental side. As DriveNow debuts over the next few weeks, we'll see whether it will be plagued by the sort of vandalism and theft that has kept Paris' Vélib bike-share under siege, or if it thrives and expands to other cities. And while this system is not as green as abandoning cars altogether, it's quite a step up from the all-too-common practice of one urbanite, one car.

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More on car-share services:
300 New York DOT Employees to Share 25 Zipcars
Occasional Car Program Sets the Pace in Denver, Colorado
Zipcar to Go Public With $75 Million IPO

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