Car Sharing: What if MINI Offered it?

There’s some research out today that paints an interesting picture for the future of car use in major urban areas. Zip car’s own study found the following:

  • 18% of respondents have sold their vehicles since joining Zipcar while 46% said they have avoided buying a car.
  • 72% said they it was now less likely that they would buy or lease a car in the future.
  • Only 12% of Zipsters reported taking five or more car trips in a month, down from 38%, while those now driving less than 500 miles per month increased by more than 17%.
  • 14% bike more; 21% walk more, and 11% use public transportation more often. More than 1/3 said they use public transport to get to a Zipcar.

Source: Clean Technica

We know that BMW has already bought into the idea of car sharing in Europe. In fact they’ve recently partnered with Sixt for a premium car sharing program called DriveNow . The program features BMW 1 Series and MINIs decked out with a few premium options not normally found from car sharing companies like Zip Car. And if rumors are to be believed, BMW may go lease and car share only for the upcoming all electric BMW i3.

So that begs the question;

What would you do if BMW or MINI came out with a MINI branded car sharing program in urban areas:

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After the break you can read all about BMW’s joint venture with Sixt. It gives a great overview of what a MINI car sharing program might look like.

Official Release

The BMW Group and Sixt AG are planning a unique and innovative car sharing venture. With effect from April 2011 onwards – initially in Munich and later in Berlin – the two companies intend to join forces in offering a modern mobility concept under the brand-name DriveNow; this new product will combine vehicles and service of the highest quality with simple, flexible usage.

DriveNow is the first car sharing concept to place an emphasis on efficient premium vehicles and comprehensive service. Vehicles may be hired and dropped off wherever the customer needs them, thus clearly differentiating DriveNow from products offered by other competitors. (videos after the break)

Sixt AG and the BMW Group intend to bundle their car sharing activities in the DriveNow joint venture, in which each company will hold a 50 percent stake. The BMW Group will provide the premium vehicles and the technology within the cars, while Sixt AG will contribute premium services, car-hire know-how, IT systems and a comprehensive customer registration network.

The BMW Group will be offering DriveNow under the new sub-trademark BMW i, which stands for innovative mobility services and which will reinforce the position of the original BMW brand as a sustainable and forward-looking brand.

Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of the BMW AG for Sales and Marketing stated: “As a mobility provider, the BMW Group is not simply an automobile manufacturer. There is a growing demand for flexible mobility products in urban areas. DriveNow’s premium car sharing services are aimed precisely at this gap in the market. We are aiming to launch a profitable new line of business while at the same time introducing potential new customers to our brands.” Mr. Robertson also went on to say that car sharing also has a role to play in cutting down traffic volumes, by reducing the time spent searching for parking spaces and in providing an alternative replacement for little-used, old and inefficient vehicles. Detlev Pätsch, Member of the Sixt AG Board of Management responsibly for Operations stated: “In the middle of 2008, Sixt pioneered innovative car sharing when it started up its SIXTI Car Club in Berlin. Together with BMW, we have now taken this concept a stage further to become DriveNow. The wealth of experience which we have already gained in car rental processes and fleet management systems will enable us from the outset to offer our DriveNow customers complication-free mobility combined with excellent customer service, the basis for a sustainable and profitable business model.”

Easy use

DriveNow is a car sharing scheme that is not dependent on car hire stations. Fixed pick-up and drop-off points are not necessary. Customers will be able to find available vehicles via the internet under, via a smartphone app or simply at the roadside. Vehicles can be used immediately without advance reservation or they may be booked in advance via internet or smartphone app. The system is “keyless”: a conventional car key is not necessary. DriveNow vehicles can be opened and closed with a chip on the driving license and activated by pressing the start button.

Having completed an application under, it is then only necessary to carry out a one-off registration at a Sixt station in order to check driving license details and enter the chip onto the driving license. Registration can also be carried out at Sixt stations in selected BMW or MINI branches.

18 to 21 year-old beginner drivers can also become active DriveNow members if they have already participated successfully in an approved driving safety training course. The BMW Group also offers such training courses.

Transparent price model

The DriveNow price model will be simple, transparent and all-inclusive. Users pay a one-off registration fee of euro 29. The charge for using vehicles is 29 cents (including sales tax) per minute. This rate per minute covers all costs, including parking fees and fuel. For the MINI Cooper there is a maximum hourly charge of euro 14.90. If the customer wants to interrupt the journey but keep the DriveNow vehicle, it only costs 10 cents per minute. In thus way, DriveNow combines the benefits of this innovative mobility concept which does not necessarily involve hire-stations with the functionality of traditional, stationary car sharing. . DriveNow is also making special introductory offer for the first 1,000 members. The one-off registration fee is reduced to euro 19 and they also receive 90 minutes free of charge.

In addition to free parking in public areas in the centre of town, DriveNow will also make spaces available in selected multi-storey car parks as required. Start off in Munich and Berlin, with plans for international expansion.

Subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities, DriveNow will start off with effect from April 2011 initially in Munich and then in Berlin. Further European cities will be added in the coming years. The long-term plan is to introduce DriveNow on other continents as well. Both the product and the brand have global appeal. By the year 2020, the plan is for DriveNow to have one million members worldwide. DriveNow will start off in Munich with approximately 300 BMW 1 Series and MINI vehicles. The resulting vehicle density within the Mittlerer Ring will ensure that customers will usually have no more than 500 metres to walk to the nearest available vehicle. The scheme is due to start up in Berlin with approximately 500 vehicles.

First-ever car sharing scheme offering premium vehicles

DriveNow is the first car sharing concept to focus on top class products and services. During the initial phase DriveNow will offer various BMW 1 Series and MINI models. The plan is also to use electric vehicles in the future. Depending on demand, other models can be added to the car sharing fleet flexibly at a later stage. The cars are all premium vehicles with at least four seats, luxury fittings (e.g. parking assistance, air conditioning, heated seats, etc.) and fitted with extremely efficient engines. The cars are all easily recognisable with the DriveNow logo. Sixt’s premium service package guarantees extreme flexibility whereby cars can be hired and returned spontaneously. DriveNow stands for seamless procedures and high quality service.

Sixt and BMW strengthen their strategic partnership Sixt AG and the BMW Group have already been working together for several years to provide mobility services. Both companies are working intensively on developing and implementing ideas for innovative mobility services. Cooperation arrangements between the two companies will be further strengthened in future.

  • Dr Obnxs

    It’s a great ideal. Urban and dense suburban driving is changing, and this is a good thing. Smart is doing it with the electric Smart cars in San Diego. But for Smart, thier electric car really sucks (the only way I could crack 40 mph in one was to go down a steep hill. To break 60 mph I’d have to drive off a cliff!).

    All the people I talk to who use car sharing programs really love how it works for them. But just like electric cars, it’s not a solution for everyone.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Dr. O (just one letter short of being Dr. No;)

    Transportation is, and will remain, a challenging issue. “Carmaggedon” is becoming commonplace from coast-to-coast in urban centers. Evidence strongly suggests that urban planning, linking land use to transportation, has failed miserably over the past half century. Intermodal “human” transportation incorporating public transit systems has never gained public favor, particularly in the U.S. simply because Americans are, for the most part, unwilling to give up their private vehicles. 

    Ultimately, programs like Sixt AG could provide a practical link to high-speed MagLev monorails, inter-urban “peoplemovers,” and even Pedicabs. Unfortuantely, most Americans would “rather fight than switch.” After all, high-density living is the engine that drove urban sprawl and “big” American cars were the proclaimed “badge of courage” for most suburbanites.

  • Anonymous

    Great idea for my next visit to Holland but don’t ant anyone using my MINI, thank you very much!

  • Anonymous

    The article makes it sound like it is a new concept for Europe, but MINI’s have been widely used for years by Zipcar and other car share companies in the US. Hatchback, convertible, and Clubman are available.

    • No the idea is that it would be owned and operated by MINI and serviced partially out of dealers.

  • Anonymous

    It depends on how much are you willing to risk your assets and loose everything on a freak accident. Let me explain, if you can afford to purchase your own BMW or MINI the last thing you want to do is use a car share service because their insurance is minimal and leaves the user exposed to heavy economical repercussions. Even with ‘umbrella’ insurance you are better off riding the subway or having your own ride with proper insurance.

    Here’s a link to the NY Times related article.

  • DPB

    I was a Zipcar member in the VERY early days (when new members got an orientation at the CEO’s house!) I own a car again now (’10 hardtop) but hang on to my Zipcar membership for the rare occasions I need an SUV or pickup to haul something. Part of the appeal is that you can choose just the kind of car you need for your trip. Which is why I wouldn’t jump at a carshare focused on a single make or model. Zipcar gives you MINIs and BMWs and hybrids and trucks, why would you join a carshare with less?