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BMW steps up ride sharing vision

Premium motoring brand BMW was one of the first companies to pull the mobile channel into its marketing mix. Here the firm’s head of digital media, who is personally responsible for many of the firm’s marketing innovations, talks to telecoms.com about why mobile works for BMW and how.

Over the last six years, BMW has been teaming up with car rental company Sixt to launch car sharing service DriveNow, but now it’s going solo after buying its former partner out.

The car sharing service currently serves one million customers across 13 European countries after being launched in 2011. Having tasted success, BMW no longer wants to share and has announced it will be buying the shares Sixt had owned, assuming of course that the regulatory authorities don’t find competition issues with the transaction.

“We have achieved extraordinary success with DriveNow over the past seven years – thanks to the efforts of the DriveNow employees and the excellent cooperation with our joint venture partner, Sixt,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Board Member at BMW.

“Our aim is to win 100 million customers for our premium mobility services by 2025.”

As with most automotive businesses, mobility has been praised as a cornerstone of the BMW plan, though this does seem to more than hot air. DriveNow is the initiative in Europe, though a similar plan is in place for North America (ReachNow), while ParkNow is for parking and ChargeNow is for charging electric vehicles.

Of course, ending a successful relationship such as this generally only happens for one reason; wandering eyes. The last couple of weeks have seen a couple of rumours emerge that BMW is trying to merge DriveNow with Daimler’s car sharing service Car2Go. Such a partnership would be the first steps to a driverless taxi revolution, with the pair deeming themselves capable of taking on the likes of Uber and Lyft.

The pair has said other working relationships will continue, though you have to feel Sixt got the worse end of the deal here. They might have gotten €200-odd million for its share of DriveNow, but if such car sharing ideas take of as anticipated they would most like destroy any need for car rental companies like Sixt. Perhaps it isn’t the best example of long-term thinking.

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