The BMW Group and Sixt AG are planning a "premium vehicle" car sharing venture that allows customers to pick up vehicles and drop them off wherever they need them, according to BMWblog.com.
The two companies intend to join forces under the brand-name DriveNow.
The BMW Group will provide the premium vehicles and the technology within the cars, while Sixt AG will contribute premium services, car-hire knowledge, IT systems, and a comprehensive customer registration network. Sixt AG and the BMW Group will both hold a 50-percent stake in the DriveNow joint venture.
The BMW Group will be offering DriveNow under the new sub-trademark BMW i, which stands for innovative mobility services.
Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of the BMW AG for sales and marketing, stated that a growing demand exists for flexible mobility products in urban areas, and DriveNow's premium car sharing services are geared toward that gap in the market.
He added that car sharing can help cut down traffic volumes by reducing the time spent searching for parking spaces and providing an alternative replacement for little-used, old and inefficient vehicles.
DriveNow is not dependent on car rental stations. Customers will be able to find available vehicles via the Internet at www.drive-now.com, via a smartphone app, or at roadside. Customers can use vehicles immediately without advance reservation, or they can book them in advance via the Internet or smartphone app.
The system is "keyless," meaning 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.
The companies say the DriveNow price model will be simple, transparent and all-inclusive. Users pay a one-off registration fee, and the charge for using vehicles is 29 cents (including sales tax) per minute. This rate covers all costs, including parking fees and fuel.
In addition to free parking in public areas in the center of town, DriveNow will also make spaces available in selected multi-story car parks as required.
DriveNow will start operations in April 2011, initially in Munich and then in Berlin. Additional European cities will be added in the coming years, with a plan to add the service on other continents, as well.
The company will start off in Munich with approximately 300 BMW 1 Series and MINI vehicles. The plan is for customers to walk no more than 500 meters to the nearest available vehicle.
DriveNow claims to be the first car sharing concept to focus on top class products and services. The service will offer various BMW 1 Series and MINI models, with plans to use electric vehicles in the future. The cars are all premium vehicles with at least four seats, luxury amenities such parking assistance, air conditioning, and heated seats, and fitted with extremely efficient engines.