Two different car-sharing concepts have recently announced pilot schemes in the US – but while one puts a unique spin on the test drive, the other wishes to offer a boost to both driver convenience and the environment.
BMW dealerships are expected to bring a new service called BMW On Demand to New York’s Tri-state Area; covering select areas in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. For a basic hourly rate of $35 (about twenty quid), people wishing to experience the luxurious 328i sedan model can rent one of about 100 cars for as long as they wish – or choose the Overnight deal for $210 (about £130). The Weekend deal is also sure to prove very popular amongst those with a more disposable income – pick up the car on Friday afternoon and return it at 9am on Monday, and the cost will be about £220.
Given the ease and comparatively cheaper alternatives it may be pricy, explained president of BMW Financial Services Ed Robinson, but it’s no skin off the nose of the more discerning customer in search of premium luxury. “They want the car when they want it,” Robinson said. “They want a car they can enjoy and that fits their lifestyle.” BMW sees the scheme, launching next month, as a “shortcut” to an uptake in BMW purchases from those who just need a little longer than a standard test drive to decide if it’s for them.
A more financially viable alternative lies with such schemes as RelayRides, which last week announced a partnership with GM subsidiary Onstar, provider of the latest onboard technology in cars Stateside (think KITT from Knight Rider but without the sarky quips) to allow remote unlocking. A RelayRides user lists their vehicle information on the website, along with times of availability and an hourly rate. Thanks to Onstar, lenders no longer need to be on hand to hand over the keys – the borrower simply texts a code or uses a smartphone app to gain access to the vehicle.
Peer-to-peer car sharing is already making waves since RelayRides launched, with some states now making amendments to car insurance laws that absolve the lender of any damage caused to the vehicle while it’s on loan. It’s a simple concept that can earn generous car owners a bit of cash, and is the pinnacle of convenience for someone who just needs to shift a few boxes or drive their friends to the cinema.
The differences between each approach to car-lending are staggering; as is the potential for both to be a huge success.