If we believe everything we read, it may seem that the internal combustion engine is on the out. Everyone wants to talk about alternative , hybrid and electric vehicles, what we will be driving in the future and what will propel it. If you believe the hype: we’ll no doubt be driving pod shaped vehicles, powered by bacteria regenerating lithium batteries. If you believe everything you read, we’ve written off the internal combustion engine! I’ve got news for you: the traditional petroleum powered internal combustion engine isn’t going anyplace soon. In fact, this 125-year-old invention is just getting started. Google “better fuel economy than a prius” and the list of articles stretches endlessly. The fact is the internal combustion engine has barely hit momentum yet. BMW’s 2011 520D, Ford’s 2010 Fiesta, even Hyundai ravages the poor old Prius on fuel efficiency. Clearly a large part of this anomaly is the 125 year history – evolution – the internal combustion engine has under it’s belt. Hybrid and Electric Vehicles are new technology, and no doubt will grow into worthy advisories. Hybrid and EV are at the moment novelties, take Porsche, the 2011 Panamera Hybrid has a fuel economy of 45 mile per gallon, the 2011 911 has a fuel economy of 50mpg, go figure? Read the full article »»»»
As a joint venture BMW and car rental outfit Sixt have launched a car-sharing program called “Drive Now” with premium vehicles. It is an independent station model. This means that fixed account acceptance and return points. Customers can retrieve the vehicles on the Internet or by using their Smartphone App. Very cleverly, a vehicle key is not needed. The “Drive Now” cars are equipped with a chip, members are issued with a smart card that operates the vehicle. the program is being launched in Germany with plans to roll the system out internationally later this year. As always with BMW, expect this to be a very efficient and user friendly system.
Ian Robertson, from BMW AG says: “As a mobility provider, 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.
BMW says “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 www.drive-now.com, 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 www.drive-now.com, 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.”
BMW’s Press Release:
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.
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.
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 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.