BMW ReachNow Combines Ride Hailing and Car Sharing in One App

It's like the love child of Uber and Zipcar.

BMW

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft and car-sharing services like Zipcar are the most popular alternatives to car ownership, but no company has offered both types of service until now. BMW's ReachNow mobility-services division is offering car sharing and ride hailing in one app, albeit only in its headquarters town of Seattle.

ReachNow already offers car sharing in Seattle, as well as New York City (although service was recently cut back there), and Portland, Oregon. But the ride-hailing component is new. The app was redesigned to accommodate both service types, and generally improve user-friendliness, according to ReachNow. BMW also sourced professional drivers through a third party to give rides, using the existing fleet of cars from the ReachNow car-sharing service.

"Once the driver is done with ride hailing, they can put it [the car] back on the street, and five minutes later it can be used for car sharing," Dr. Simon Broesamle, ReachNow's chief customer officer, told The Drive. ReachNow won't add cars to its fleet for the new ride-hailing service. Instead it will rely on usage data to strategically position the vehicles it has, Broesamle said.

"We know our members' behavior pretty well," he said, adding that this knowledge will allow ReachNow to disperse its cars accordingly. The Seattle fleet includes a mix of BMW and Mini models, but only the BMW 3 Series and X1 will be available for ride hailing, as they're among the largest vehicles in the fleet. Customers can select car sharing or ride hailing by tapping "Drive" or "Ride" buttons, respectively, in the ReachNow app. Ride-hailing customers can schedule a pickup anywhere from 20 minutes to seven days in advance.

The redesigned app allows users to compare pricing and estimated time of arrival for both modes of travel. In ride-hailing mode, a map screen shows moving cars to represent nearby drivers, similar to the Uber app. Ride-hailing customers can also specify "quiet time" if they don't feel like chatting with their driver, and even preselect radio stations and temperature settings. ReachNow charges a $3.24 minimum for ride hailing, and $2.40 per mile and $0.40 per minute from there, but does not do surge pricing.

The whole app also aims for a more casual tone. ReachNow replaced the term "Reserve" with "Let's Do This," and the loading screen displays the message "Making It Happen."

While Broesmale would not discuss any concrete expansion plans, BMW is definitely bullish on mobility services. The automaker is teaming up with arch-rival Daimler to codevelop those services. It's unclear what those plans will mean for ReachNow (called DriveNow outside the United States) and its Daimler counterpart, Car2Go, but the joint venture shows that BMW and Daimler are serious about doing more than just selling cars.

"We truly believe it's not only cars," Broesmale said. "We need to become a mobility-as-service company."