UK: BMW and Sixt launch London car-sharing service

By Graeme Roberts | 4 December 2014

BMW Group and rental car operator Sixt have launched the car sharing service DriveNow in London.

The service already has 360,000 customers in seven locations (Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg, Vienna and San Francisco) and was launched initially in three London boroughs - Islington, Hackney and Haringey - with other boroughs set for launch in 2015.

DriveNow UK head Joseph Seal-Driver said: Car sharing has really begun to capture Londoners’ imaginations but it’s still a fairly niche service. Londoners have told us that current services don’t reflect how they live and move. Our goal is that our introduction of a location and booking free, drive-by-the-minute, park anywhere service will act as the tipping point in transforming car sharing into a mainstream mobility choice."

A one-time registration fee of GBP29 gives customers access to a fleet of 210 (up to 300 in 2015) top specification BMW 1 Series and Minis. From Spring 2015 an electric car option arrives in the form of 30 BMW i3s.

DriveNow claims it is the capital's most stylish, most flexible and spontaneous car sharing service thanks to being entirely location and booking free - cars have no fixed bay to return to, and can be dropped for free anywhere across the boroughs.

An app for iOS and Android devices is used to locate and open the nearest car or the customer card unlocks and activates a car parked on the street.

Drivers pay by the minute (39p with an hourly cap of GBP20) and there are discount packages which drop the rate to 32p.

The service was the first to negotiate with the London  for its customers to be able to park in any legal, on-street parking space, including all residential zones and the 'drop anywhere' service allows one-way trips.

BMW mobility services chief Peter Schwarzenbauer said: "This programme is part of the group’s strategic response to the growth in urban living and shared ownership. Our aim is to expand it into about 15 more cities in Europe and about 10 in North America in the future."