Not even six months have passed since Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, declared its defeat and exited a loss-making car-sharing service in Britain. Now BMW seems to think it can succeed with a similar initiative in London.
BMW’s DriveNow service already operates in the United States, Austria and Germany, and the car-sharing scheme is run in cooperation with rental firm Sixt: a user needs to pay a one-off registration fee and is then allowed to locate and open the nearest car available via a card or a smartphone application. The program has been designed for immediate use at the time being in three boroughs in North London and rivals Avis’s Zipcar and Hertz’s 24/7 schemes – the customers can then release the car when they’re finished using it anywhere within the designated zone.
“What we think we have to do differently is start on a smaller scale (and) prove the concept,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member with responsibility for mobility services when discussing the failed Daimler project. The DriveNow business already has more than 360,000 customers globally. Back in May, Daimler decided to shut down its Car2Go service in the UK – claiming the program failed because of the country’s strong culture and tradition of private vehicle ownership.