BMW Launching A New Car-Sharing Service In Seattle

In an effort to dip into the car-booking field in the United States, BMW is planning to launch a new “premium car sharing service” stateside, taking its cues from the company’s existing model in Europe.

The automaker is calling the new effort ReachNow and is planning to offer it first in Seattle, followed by three additional cities in 2016. The goal is to expand the service to 10 North American cities, eventually.

ReachNow “is designed to provide drivers with an experience that is as convenient as owning a car,” BMW said in its announcement on Friday, promising fast registration and an “almost instant approval process.” The initial fleet of 370 vehicles — including the BMW i3, the BMW 3 Series, and the MINI Cooper — will soon be parked on the streets of Seattle, with a planned expansion to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the next quarter.

After they’re registered — for a onetime fee of $39 — members can use the app to locate and book the closest available car. When they’re done, members can return the car to any legal parking space on the street, including for free at meters and within residential permit zones.

ReachNow vehicles are charged at a rate of $0.49 for each minute the vehicle is used, and $0.30 per minute while parked. ReachNow automatically caps pricing at three different tiers: $50 for up to 3 hours, $80 for up to 12 hours, and $110 for up to 24 hours.

The idea is to “make life on the road easier for people in big cities,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW’s executive in charge of overseeing car sharing, said in the statement.

“With this service, we are building up on Drive Now, our extremely successful European business model, and bringing it up to a new level in the U.S,” he said.

Down the road, ReachNow will offer additional features: a chauffeur service for those who don’t want to get behind the wheel; a delivery service for car sharing vehicles (for customers who might have a lot of luggage or need a specific vehicle); and the option of renting out your own MINI vehicles.

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