A little over a year ago, BMW announced its DriveNow partnership with Sixt. That car-sharing service – which is active in three cities in Germany: Berlin, Munich and Dusseldorf – made its U.S. debut in San Francisco in June. Today, BMW gave more details on the San Francisco service and announced the upcoming launch of ParkNow.

DriveNow is a short-term rental scheme that is awfully similar to Daimler's Car2go program. Using your smartphone or a computer, you can locate a nearby available car and then rent it for 29 cents a minute. When you're done, you can park it anywhere within the defined business area and call it good. At least, that's how it works in Europe. In San Francisco, you pay $12 for the first 30 minutes, then 32 cents for each minute. Oh, and you need to return the car to a DriveNow location (there are currently eight) when finished. DriveNow in San Francisco uses 70 all-electric ActiveE vehicles, whereas other cities use some Mini models as well.

ParkNow is a service that will help you find open parking spaces. This is important because
BMW says there are "an estimated 505,000 vehicles in San Francisco, yet only 448,000 parking spaces available at any given time." With ParkNow, you can shorten your rental time by reserving a parking space ahead of time. You can find a spot, reserve it and prepay through your cell phone or the web. When using the mobile app, you can also get directions to "your" spot. There are currently 14 locations in San Francisco beta testing ParkNow and 100 more will be added in the next few weeks. ParkNow, a part of BMW i, is a joint venture between BMW and Urban Mobility and will officially start up in September. BMW said that both DriveNow and ParkNow will be coming to other cities in the future.
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BMW Group Announces Launch of ParkNow Mobile Parking Service and Details DriveNow Car-Sharing Service, Featuring 70 All-Electric BMW ActiveE Vehicles, in San Francisco
20.08.2012

Information from editor: For related photos, please go to www.bmwusanews.com.
San Francisco, CA – August 20, 2012... At a press conference with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, BMW Group Member of the Board Dr. Ian Robertson today announced the upcoming launch of ParkNow, an innovative mobile parking solution that is a joint venture with Urban Mobility, and provided new details about DriveNow, a unique premium car-sharing service which features a fleet of BMW ActiveE all-electric vehicles. San Francisco serves as the initial U.S. market for each service.

San Francisco is at the forefront of cities working to develop and implement innovative approaches to urban challenges, including traffic congestion and the need for smarter, greener parking systems. There are an estimated 505,000 vehicles in San Francisco, yet only 448,000 parking spaces available at any given time. On weekdays, the total vehicle population increases by approximately 35,000. An estimated one-third of all downtown traffic on weekdays is due to vehicles searching for a parking spot.

"The BMW Group is more than a premium car company, it is also focused on developing and delivering new services to help meet the increasing need for flexible mobility solutions in our cities," said Dr. Robertson. "The premium car-sharing service DriveNow and parking solution ParkNow will help meet that demand in San Francisco and, ultimately, in other cities. Our introduction of these services in San Francisco represents BMW's commitment to encouraging the development of new mobility options that will reduce emissions and congestion and improve the quality of life for San Franciscans."

"San Francisco is the 'Innovation Capital of the World' and the car sharing and EV Capital of America," said Mayor Lee. "I am pleased that BMW has chosen San Francisco as the first U.S. site for its innovative services and has launched their program entirely with electric vehicles."

ParkNow, which will be available to drivers beginning in September, is an online mobile parking service that enables users to pay for parking in advance, with guaranteed access and clearly defined rates, based on their personal preferences. Customers can search for parking using ParkNow's mobile app or website, reserve, pay and then be navigated directly to the parking facility, reducing time spent looking for parking, as well as emissions. There are currently 14 ParkNow locations in and around San Francisco piloting the system. Stations are located around the city, close to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway) and bike-sharing stations, as well as at San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport and in Palo Alto. Four ParkNow partner operators, ProPark America, Towne Park, ABM Parking and California Parking, will launch over 100 additional ParkNow locations in the coming weeks.

DriveNow which launched in June in San Francisco is a flexible, premium car-sharing program offering the opportunity to drive BMW's first all-electric vehicle, the BMW ActiveE with zero emission driving. The fleet of 70 ActiveE vehicles is located at eight DriveNow Stations around San Francisco, with two additional stations in Palo Alto and at the San Francisco International Airport coming soon. After registering online or in-person, customers can locate and book an available car using the DriveNow web site or mobile app. They can then return the car to the same – or any other – DriveNow Station, allowing for convenient one-way trips, if desired. Stations are located around the city, close to BART, MUNI and bike-sharing stations. Through a partnership with California-based Coulomb Technologies' ChargePoint network, the largest network of independently-owned electric vehicle charging stations, drivers can easily locate a nearby charging station if they need to top-off during the course of their rental, which has no time limit. Parking and charging is free at DriveNow Stations.

All of these initiatives are part of BMW i, a BMW brand focused on developing sustainable premium mobility solutions. Richard Steinberg is the CEO of DriveNow. Gary Neff is the CEO of ParkNow.

BMW is a Launch Partner of the non-profit Green Parking Council. GPC works at the intersection of parking, green building, clean technology, renewable energy, smart grid infrastructure, urban planning and sustainable mobility. By challenging the parking industry to collaborate and create open-sourced, sustainable best practices, GPC encourages exceptional industry transformation through partnerships, creativity and ingenuity.

BMW i Ventures is the automaker's venture capital company, created to fund budding technology companies working to solve mobility challenges in the world's most densely populated cities. It has made strategic investments in several companies, including Coulomb Technologies. Coulomb's ChargePoint is the largest online global charging network, connecting electric vehicle drivers to charging stations in more than 14 countries. The investment by BMW supports the development of infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles.

Other investments include ParkAtMyHouse, an innovative online marketplace designed to connect home and business owners interested in earning money by renting their space with drivers in need of a convenient, safe and cost-effective place to park. The service has 20,000 unique locations and over 150,000 registered drivers. An international rollout in cooperation with BMW i is currently live in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the U.S. The first i Ventures investment was in MyCityWay, a set of location-aware apps for urban navigation that provide users with information on public transportation, parking availability and local entertainment in San Francisco and 70 other cities across the U.S. and around the world.

The BMW i brand also notably encompasses two revolutionary new vehicles set to launch in 2013 and 2014 – the BMW i3 and BMW i8. The BMW i3 and BMW i8 will become the first two production vehicles to be purpose-built as electric and hybrid-electric using entirely new methods and materials such as lightweight, but ultra-strong carbon fiber reinforced plastic, which is being produced at a BMW factory powered by hydroelectricity in Moses Lake, Washington.