The concept of car sharing is not new. For one thing, plenty of commuters use a ride share, park-and-ride, or carpool to cut down on emissions and time spent behind the wheel. But those who live in urban centers may also be keen to do away with the many drawbacks that are part and parcel of owning a car, including expenses for gas, maintenance, parking (generally pricy in a city setting), and more, as well as the many hassles associated with city driving (traffic, locating parking, and so on). While having a personal vehicle on hand can certainly be useful in some scenarios, the day-to-day issues involved with navigating a city often make public transit a wiser choice. However, there are definitely times when one would rather have a car, say for trips to the grocery store (is there anything worse than running for the bus stop with eight bags of groceries in tow?) or a jaunt to the burbs to have dinner with friends (unless you enjoy the prospect of taking two trains and three buses to get there). Enter car sharing programs, which give carless urbanites access to a personal vehicle for a short time at a small fee.
San Francisco may not be the first city to offer a car sharing service, but in typical Frisco fashion they’re a step ahead of most; they have decided to team up with BMW to offer a fleet of vehicles that are eco-friendly as well convenient. The DriveNow service, initially launched in June, is just starting to ramp up its operation, with a fleet of 70 vehicles and 8 “valet” stations (pickup/drop-off locations) around the city, with plans for expansion already underway. But what sets this car sharing program apart from others of its kind? There are a few things.
First and foremost, the fleet of cars is comprised entirely of ActiveE model BMW’s, fully electric cars based on the BMW 1 Series that come with four seats, 94 miles of range (according to EPA reports), and improvements like liquid heating and cooling (an addition deemed necessary after problems with the Mini E, also under the BMW banner). The ActiveE is the second release in a proposed lineup of vehicles that the BMW Group is calling Project i, an initiative meant to provide more sustainable options for urban dwellers. In short, the DriveNow program is looking to cut emissions by providing San Francisco residents (and visitors to the city) with a green alternative for getting around that just happens to feature all the comfort, style, and pep of a BMW.
In addition, the payment structure is a little different than those used by other cities. Many have membership programs that require monthly payment and provide set amounts of access to vehicles through scheduled bookings (with penalties for overages). The DriveNow program charges per use, with the first 30 minutes costing $12 and each additional minute of usage tacking another 32 cents onto the bill (although users can also opt for a flat rate of $90 per day). Then you get roughly 90 miles of range to run your errands.
And all you have to do to get started is sign up on the website, download the app, and start booking drive time. You’ll simply select the station nearest you, book a car, and pick it up using your member ID to unlock the car and a pin number (provided at the time of booking) to start it. When you’re done you drop the ActiveE at any DriveNow station, hit the “End Reservation” button on the dash, and go on your merry way, transaction complete. Residents and visitors alike can find out more on the drive-now.com website, so get started today with the car sharing program that may just set the standard for those to come.