DriveNow, the carsharing joint venture of the BMW Group and SIXT SE, can look back fondly on 2016. DriveNow now has 815,000 registered customers, an increase of some 42% compared to 2015. In Germany, the company’s most mature market, DriveNow was able to expand its customer base by around a quarter to 607,000 customers. The company currently offers its service in eleven cities – five of which are in Germany, and six in other European countries. Any DriveNow member now has access to over 5,000 vehicles across these cities, of which 860 (17%) are electric BMW i3s.
Expansion into new markets
In 2016, DriveNow continued its expansion, opening new locations in Brussels and Milan. Managing Director Nico Gabriel describes progress in the new cities:
“Business has developed as anticipated in Brussels. After half a year of business, we have already built up a robust and active customer base, and now we’re beginning to expand our service offering.”
Milan has exceeded expectations at DriveNow:
“After four weeks, over 50,000 customers had already registered with us in the northern Italian metropolis. With our BMW and MINI models, we’ve introduced an attractive service with a range of applications,” explains Gabriel.
His fellow Managing Director Sebastian Hofelich adds:
“In keeping with our tempo to date, we are aiming to bring DriveNow to two or three new cities in 2017. We attribute our success to date to our healthy financial basis and sound growth rate. We always arrive with the intention of remaining in a city.”
In the next few months, the company is planning to announce which cities it is targeting for 2017
‘Handshake’ product innovation avoids the search for parking spaces
DriveNow introduced a groundbreaking new feature for free-floating carsharing in November: The option for a vehicle to change hands between two customers on the fly. As a result, customers can offer their vehicle to other customers at their planned destination right at the start of their trip. If a customer reserves the vehicle at the end destination, the driver passes the vehicle directly on to the new customer on arrival – avoiding the time-consuming search for a parking space. This dynamic new feature also increases the availability of DriveNow vehicles for customers with high mobility requirements.
“The ‘Handshake’ option allows our customers to use the available resources much more efficiently. Moreover, since its introduction, we have saved customers the search for a parking space many hundreds of times over – reducing the volume of traffic searching for parking in the process,” says Sebastian Hofelich. “This is an important step in establishing future-proof urban carsharing.”
Unwavering enthusiasm for electromobility
By introducing electric BMW i3s across the DriveNow fleet in 2015, the company was able to continue to make an important contribution to raising the profile of electromobility. Over 200,000 customers have already made their first trip in an electric vehicle with DriveNow, clocking up more than six million kilometers of electric driving in the process. In addition to cooperation with city councils on expanding the charging infrastructure, this commitment was recognized with the Energy Award 2016 in the “Mobility” category, an award presented by Handelsblatt for progress and innovation in the energy industry.
Carsharing legislation due in Germany for 2017
At the end of 2015, the WiMobil Study by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety yielded the first scientifically-recognized long-term study in Germany proving the traffic-relieving effects of carsharing. The results were confirmed over the past year in a similar way by a carsharing study carried out by Vienna City Council as well as the EVA-CS Study by Munich City Council. The latter prompted the Bavarian capital to introduce initial measures for promoting carsharing. One such measure has seen substantial parking limitations lifted for carsharing vehicles. Managing Director Nico Gabriel explains:
“The Munich example should set a precedent. There is sufficient evidence that carsharing makes a vital contribution to reducing the levels of private car usage in cities and therefore cutting the volume of traffic searching for parking as well as the output of emissions. As a result, we hope that other cities will also introduce measures which make carsharing more attractive and scalable overall.”
The carsharing law (“Carsharing-Gesetz”), which was only approved by the German cabinet on December 21, provides cities with the legal framework to promote carsharing going forward. Managing Director Sebastian Hofelich explains: “The law finally legally anchors carsharing as a visible and effective component in changing the transport environment within Germany. The published law now has to be followed up with actions by local councils to encourage a dramatic reduction in individual traffic and car ownership within cities. This is the only way for us all to continue to make an effective contribution to achieving local and national sustainability targets.” The carsharing law is due to enter into force in Germany in September of this year.