Carsharing market now includes BMW

[youtube] Services like ZipCar and peer-to-peer carsharing companies like Getaround and RelayRides got another vote of confidence this year.  BMW joined the ranks of this emerging market by partnering with German rental car company Sixt to announce the creation of DriveNow, yet another innovative carsharing service. The main differentiating factor of DriveNow will be renters’ ability to pick up and drop off vehicles wherever they need to.  ZipCar requires that the car be returned to the exact spot from whence it left.  Getaround and RelayRides require essentially the same by asking renters to return the vehicle as close as possible to the original spot (this is a practical matter as their rental cars are privately-owned and likely parked near owners’ residences).

The second differentiating factor is that these will be BMW vehicles, equipped with BMW technology to enable keyless entry and tracking of the vehicles (as there will be no rental pods or locations).

BMW board member Ian Robertson sees it as a win-win: BMW gets potential new customers to trial its cars while congested cities (the trial first opens in Berlin and Munich) will see less circling for parking, reduced traffic volumes, and less use of older, less-efficient vehicles.  The service will be more expensive, however, with rentals for $22-$45 per hour.  But, as BMW’s Mini Cooper is ZipCar’s most-requested vehicle, Inhabitat thinks the service will be a success.

- Terra Curtis