BMW DriveNow Car Sharing Launches in the U.S

By Dan Collins on 21 August 2012
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Starting August 20, drivers in San Francisco have a new way to get around, namely by borrowing a car from BMW and the BMW DriveNow program.

BMW ActiveE on the road in the Bay Area

BMW DriveNow is an electric vehicle car-sharing program that was developed by BMW’s urban mobility sub-brand BMWi.  The program has an inaugural fleet of 70 BMW ActiveEs across eight locations in the Bay Area. Drivers who enroll in DriveNow can find and reserve these vehicles using a smartphone app and pay one simple rate for their use.

The Leipzig, Germany-produced ActiveE is powered by a 168 horsepower electric motor that develops 184 pound-feet of torque. Although slightly heavier than the gasoline-powered 1 series models, the ActiveE has been engineered to retain 50-50 weight distribution and promises the same engaged driving experience as its counterparts. DriveNow will be the first time the general public will have the opportunity to rent and drive these vehicles, as the 675 other ActiveE’s in the U.S. are being leased as part of a pilot program driven by the BMWi sub-brand, which focuses principally on the next generation of urban mobility. The ActiveE’s powertrain is the same that will be used inthe BMW i3 that will be available in the U.S. in 2013.

DriveNow is poised to reduce traffic volume in San Francisco, which swells during working hours and is exacerbated by the city’s lack of parking. The initial DriveNow ActiveE’s will be stationed at one of eight locations throughout the city, many of which serve as transportation hubs such as BART or Muni stations and in Palo Alto. DriveNow has partnered with California-based Coloumb Technologies to allow DriveNow users to charge their vehicles for free using the firm’s ChargePoint network.

BMW Group launched the DriveNow premium car-sharing program in Munich, Germany in mid-2011 and has since expanded to Düsseldorf and Berlin. The U.S.-based DriveNow differs slightly from the German program, which is a joint venture between BMW and rental car company SIXT, who offer primarily MINI Coopers and Clubmans as well as BMW 1 series hatchbacks and X1s in the German cities. The American fleet, operated solely by BMW, consists of the BMW ActiveEs.

DriveNow drivers pay a one-time $39 start-up fee to enroll in the program, and then rent the cars based on the amount of time they use them. Rates start at $12 for the first 30 minutes of usage and are capped at $90 per day.

BMW also announced ParkNow, a network of intelligent parking facilities in the Bay Area. Similar to finding a DriveNow vehicle, users can find available parking spots using a smartphone, including ones with facilities to charge their electric vehicles.