BMW app launches “drive by the minute, park anywhere” car sharing service in Islington, Hackney and Haringey

BMW 1 Series in Seal Street, David Ulrich

BMW 1 Series in Seal Street, David Ulrich - Credit: Archant

A car sharing app which allows you to open vehicles with your smartphone and drop them off anywhere in the borough was launched yesterday.

In Upper Street, David Ulrich

In Upper Street, David Ulrich - Credit: Archant

DriveNow, a joint venture between BMW and international car rental company Sixt, already has 360,000 customers globally in central Europe and San Francisco – and is now looking to break London by piloting a fleet of 210 cars in Islington, Hackney and Haringey.

Customers pay £29 to sign up and can use the app to find their nearest car, swipe on the windscreen and drive off, paying either a per minute rate of 39p a minute or booking time slots of three, six, nine or 24 hours for a cheaper rate.

DriveNow – which has worked with each of the borough councils to secure parking in any legal on-street parking space, including all residential parking zones – estimates that every one car in the fleet has the potential to take six to 13 cars off of the roads.

The scheme has also been strongly backed by TfL, which said the introduction of DriveNow in the capital was a very important part of the Mayor’s plans to reduce the strain on the capitals roads.

The company said they chose to launch in the three boroughs due to the dense population and the fact the openness of the councils to the business and its potential impact on car ownership.

Joseph Seal-Driver, head of Drive Now London, said: “It’s a big area, 65km squared, similar to the size of the are we operate in Munich.

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“This is the prefect location for us to launch in as its densely populated and there are lots of people with smart phones who perhaps don’t have cars but occasionally make journeys where a car would be the best mode of transport.

“I cycle everywhere but you can’t get a washing machine on a bike, so sometimes you need to use a car – the app is the perfect supplementary more of travel for a bike.

“It’s a perfect vehicle to provide you with a car without the hassle.”

An example journey given by Mr Seal-Driver was one he made from Crouch Hill to Broadway Market, which took him just under 20 minutes and cost about £7.

The cars can also be used outside of London, but can only be returned when parked somewhere withing the three boroughs, with potential parking spaces marked out on an interactive map within the app.

Ben Plowden, director of strategy and planning for surface transport at TfL, said: “There is a very significant challenge facing London’s roads. 30 million trips are made every day and 80 per cent of those are on the roads.

“In the next 20 years that’s going to raise to 35 million and so we have to respond and find some way of dealing with that.”

Mr Plowden said that investment in cycling, the Crossrail project and expanding the bus network would all help but that it would “not be enough”.

“Car sharing is a very important part of that jigsaw puzzle,” he said.