BMW will begin trials of a premium car hire scheme in two cities next month.
The carmaker has announced an innovative car sharing venture through partnering with rental firm Sixt.
The two companies intend to join forces in offering a modern mobility concept under the brand DriveNow.
The initiative starts in April 2011, initially in Munich and Berlin, Germany, but will be rolled out to major European cities by 2020.
DriveNow's focus is on vehicles that may be hired and dropped off wherever the customer needs them.
Locate a car and drive away
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, initially Minis and BMW 1 Series, 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.
Customers pay 29 euro joining fee then pay a 29 cent fee per minute of use, including parking and fuel
The system is “keyless”: a conventional car key is not necessary.
DriveNow vehicles can be opened and closed with a chip on the
driving licence 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 licence 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 Group and Sixt have each taken a 50/50 stake in the venture, and BMW will provide the premium vehicles and the technology within the cars, while Sixt will contribute premium services, car-hire know-how, IT
systems and a comprehensive customer registration network.
The BMW Group will be offering DriveNow under the new sub-trademark
Ian Robertson, member of the board of management of the BMW AG for sales and marketing said: “As a mobility provider, the 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