Watch out, Car2Go and Zipcar, BMW wants a piece of your car-sharing action.
With the automaker’s European car-sharing service, launched in 2011 and called Drive Now, well established and successful, it has set its sights on the US.
For the moment, the North American version of BMW’s service, known here as ReachNow, is available only in Seattle. The company plans to expand to three other US cities by the end of 2016. Later, it’ll add at least seven more to the list.
To start with, BMW’s made close to 400 vehicles available to Seattleites. They can choose from three different models: the BMW i3 electric hatchback, the BMW 3 Series sedan, and the MINI Cooper hatchback.
In just its first month in operation, over 13,000 Emerald City residents registered for ReachNow. That prompted Marcus Krieg, head of BMW's car-sharing business unit, to tell Edmunds.com, "the rapid adoption of ReachNow in Seattle is proof-positive of the demand for a premium car-sharing alternative that provides an experience as convenient as owning a car."
How Much Does ReachNow Cost?
Offering up a car-sharing experience that's as convenient as owning a vehicle is one of ReachNow’s main goals. Another is to offer users a selection of luxury cars.
Do you have to pay a premium for the latter? You be the judge. Here are the costs associated with this program:
- One-time registration fee of $39
- $50 for up to three hours
- $80 for up to 12 hours
- $110 for a full 24 hours
- $0.41 per minute of driving
- $0.30 per minute parked
Where Can I Get a ReachNow Vehicle?
- As stated above, ReachNow is only available in Seattle at the moment
- That city’s "home area" covers downtown Seattle and stretches north to North 105th Street and Northgate Way, south to South Lander Street, and west to 15th Avenue West
- There are plans to extend this area, but for now Magnolia and West Seattle are not included
The Benefits of ReachNow
- OK to use for one-way trips
- Can keep the car for as little or as long as you would like
- Free parking at meters and residential zones within the home area
- Fuel and charging costs as well as car insurance are included
Along with the above, BMW will deliver a vehicle to a specific location at a desired time as part of its service. Also, it allows people to rent out their own vehicles via ReachNow, though it must be a BMW or a MINI.
It’s likely more Seattleites will join the 13,000 who’ve already registered for the service in the coming years thanks to these benefits.
Plus, according to a McKinsey & Co. study from last September, usage of ride-hailing and car-sharing services increased by 35 percent in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Property Casualty also noted this past June that these modes of transportation are popular among millennials--currently the largest group of the US population.
Am I Insured When I Use ReachNow?
Fortunately for ReachNow drivers, the service provides the minimum amount of car insurance mandated by the state. In Seattle, that means $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $10,000 in property damage.
Members are responsible for a $500 deductible if they're at fault in an accident.
If the coverage amounts above aren’t enough for you, get a non-owner car insurance policy.
What if I Rent My Vehicle Through ReachNow? What are the Car Insurance Implications?
As stated before, it is possible to rent out your vehicle through ReachNow. It has to be a BMW or a MINI, though.
Sound nice? Just remember that making use of this benefit adds to your insurance risks.
According to McKinsey & Co., a shared vehicle’s annual mileage could increase from 11,700 to 20,400. That’s a big deal because the more your car is driven, the higher your car insurance rates tend to be. Also, if you rent out your car via ReachNow, it’s possible you’ll need to buy commercial car insurance.
In other words, as innovative as this service is, and as much as it can aid traffic congestion and pollution, there’s a lot to consider—especially from an insurance perspective—if you want to take advantage of it.