A new car sharing program just started this month in London. DriveNow plans to grow from a small-scale program by expanding naturally. Organically growing step-by step, DriveNow hopes to avoid the problems Daimler had in Britain. The partnership is a teaming up of the BMW Group and Sixt SE. They are presently in Germany — Munich, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Hamburg — as well as in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
London — unlike more-progressive transportation cities such as Copenhagen (Denmark) and Zurich (Switzerland) — has a predominant culture of private vehicle ownership. Starting with 210 BMW 1 Series and MINI Countryman models, the London fleet plans to continue expand to a total of 300 vehicles within the next year. By spring, 30 all-electric BMW i3s will be among other styles of vehicles being offered.
The area served by DriveNow is around 65 square kilometres (25 square miles) in size, comprising three boroughs in North London — the boroughs of Islington, Haringey, and Hackney. The subtle expansion of DriveNow is planned for neighboring boroughs in a short time.
Reuters reports that users pay a one-off registration fee. The fee makes it possible to find and open the nearest car by card or via a mobile phone app. Customers can return vehicles anywhere within the zone. “Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member with responsibility for mobility services, told Reuters that the company had learnt lessons in how to bring the scheme to London. The business has more than 360,000 customers worldwide.”
Growing movements of alternative transportation choices are taking off in urban centers — both Europe and North America. Younger generations are not as attached to car ownership and continue to make multi-modal choices in transportation. Millennials identify with the automobiles differently than baby boomers… who are perhaps a bit too attached to them. Millennials go for diversity of modes, including public transportation and walking, while the numbers still show very high levels of car use by baby boomers. Millennials prefer electrics, hybrids, and carsharing services compared to older generations. Of course, these are generalizations, but this is a documented shift that has been occurring.
Car sharing services give the ability to forgo car ownership without sacrificing mobility. Programs such as DriveNow, Zipcar, Car2Go, Autolib, and others like them are ideal for supplementing the short periods a driver may need or prefer the use of an automobile. In North America, DriveNow is only in San Francisco at this time. Its plans for expansion include 15 additional European and 10 North American cities.
Other interesting changes are in store for London. Planetsave reported earlier this year that billionaire Vincent Bollore will back an electric carsharing network in London. “His company has implemented a similar EV carsharing scheme in Paris. The one in London will cost Bollore about $166 million and have approximately 6,000 charging stations. Consumers can rent electric cars in the network in fifteen minute intervals. The first launch in late 2014 or early 2015 will provide 100 electric cars, with up to 3,000 more in the next three years.”
Christopher DeMorro earlier this year for CleanTechnica examined some of the benefits from car sharing programs: “A study finds that car sharing members are learning to divest their lives of the need to drive.” Continuing, “Turns out we don’t need to drive as much as we thought! While the numbers vary wildly, the most agreed-upon number is that every vehicle in a car sharing fleet removes between 9 and 13 vehicles from our nation’s roads. If even just 10% of the population started using car sharing services, we’d remove millions of cars from our roads.”
Video: Toyota i-Road Coming To France As Part Of Car Sharing Scheme
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Images: BMW i3 by Zachary Shahan | CleanTechnica | EV Obsession; London panorama by David Iliff (CC BY-SA 3.0); DriveNow pics via UK DriveNow website.
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