DriveNow – a smaller player, but a profitable one
Like car2go, DriveNow offers free-floating carsharing and initially focused on the German and North American market. It was created as a 50/50 joint venture between BMW and Sixt, but last year the manufacturer bought out the rental company’s share in preparation for the merger with car2go.
- June: DriveNow is launched in Munich (pictured a BMW i3 charging near the BMW corporate HQ), with a fleet of 300 vehicles.
- September: DriveNow debuts in Berlin.
- June: first North American location for DriveNow, in San Francisco – with EVs only. The company will cease operating in the city from November 2015, citing regulatory obstacles to running a one-way carsharing service.
- October: first DriveNow vehicles in Cologne.
- November: Hamburg is the fifth major city in Germany to get DriveNow service with an initial fleet of 450 vehicles.
- October: DriveNow debuts in Vienna, with 400 vehicles.
- December: DriveNow starts up in four of London’s boroughs (Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Waltham Forest), expanding to five more (Westminster, Barnet, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Brent) in November 2018. Clearly, DriveNow learned a lesson from car2go, which withdrew from London in 2014, citing coordination difficulties between London’s 33 districts.
- September: DriveNow launches an all-electric fleet in Copenhagen, with 400 BMW i3 cars. The fleet is also interconnected with public transport.
- October: DriveNow launches in Stockholm.
- April: ReachNow, similar to DriveNow, is launched by BMW in North America. Its technology platform is provided by RideCell rather than Sixt. Established in Seattle, Portland (Ore.) and Brooklyn, it currently has around 80,000 members.
- July: DriveNow enters Brussels, its 10th European city, where its initial offer comprises 300 BMW and Mini cars.
- October: with no less than 480 vehicles, DriveNow enters the crowded carsharing market in Milan. Other operators already present in Italy’s financial and commercial capital include car2go and Enjoy, a subsidiary of the Italian company ENI.
- In the same month, BMW announces that DriveNow has already achieved a break-even and is profitable now.
- March: the DriveNow app now allows users to open and close the car via the app. Another feature, ‘fastlane’, enables users to enter their destination on the app and transfer it directly to the car’s GPS system.
- May: Helsinki is DriveNow’s 12th European city.
- July: the first reports about a merger between DriveNow and car2go appear in the German press. According to Handelsblatt, merger talks are “imminent”.
- September: DriveNow launches in Lisbon, with 211 vehicles.
- October: DriveNow reaches the milestone of 1 million customers.
- December: ReachNow launches in Chengdu, China via a local partner, EvCard.
- January: BMW announces it has agreed with Sixt to buy the rental company’s 50% stake in DriveNow, allegedly for €208 million, thus becoming the sole owner of the company.
According to the latest figures, DriveNow operates more than 6,000 vehicles – various BMW series, plus various MINI models - in nine European countries. The share of EVs in DriveNow’s overall fleet stands at around 15% and is due to increase.
The service has well over a million customers in 13 cities, five of which are in Germany (Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Cologne). The other eight are: Vienna, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Brussels, Milan, Helsinki, Lisbon.
In its most recent annual report, BMW cites “a growing number of older people, families and business travellers” who are using its carsharing services and reports DriveNow is valued at € 418 million.