Our San Francisco readers – and anyone traveling there – ought to be very happy about this. BMW (ETR: GMW) has announced DriveNow, an electric vehicle sharing plan in which drivers can rent ActiveE vehicles from locations around the city. Although the project has actually been running for a month or so, BMW just added ParkNow, a service that will assist drivers in finding open parking spots, which the company hopes will add to the attraction of the overall project.
DriveNow is basically similar to ZipCar. A membership fee of $39 is required, as is a time-based fee for the use of each car of $12 for the first half-hour, and 32 cents per minute thereafter. Keyless entry is common across all models. However, DriveNow cars do not need to be returned to their original spot – if you end up across the city, drop the car off at the DriveNow spot there. Any return location also has an EV charger, so the next user is assured a fully charged, 80-100 mile capable vehicle.
The ParkNow app will allow users to find, reserve, and pre-pay for a parking space in any of 14 locations around the city. The number of possible locations will increase to about 100 in the near future. The app isn’t without competition, though. A Bay Area startup called Streetline promises very similar offerings.
DriveNow has proven a fair success in Germany, where it has been operating for a year. However, not all of the German program’s cars are electric, unlike the San Francisco version. The city’s growing numbers of affluent and environmentally conscious residents was a major factor in BMW’s decision, but the company does plan on introducing the program across the nation.
BMW sees this as an unobtrusive way to introduce massive populations to the positive aspects (and the pleasures) of EVs. Certainly, if such passing familiarity leads to future purchases of EVs and therefore a boost to the EV market, consider BMW’s project a success.