San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, left, and Dr. Ian Robertson, member of the board of management BMW Group, attend an event launching ParkNow/DriveNow in San Francisco on Monday, Aug. 20, 2012. (Photo by Noah Berger/newscast)

BMW has extended its premium car-sharing programme DriveNow to the US. Having launched in San Francisco in June with 70 battery-powered cars, it will launch its mobile parking system ParkNow in September.

There are now 70 BMW ActiveE cars at eight DriveNow stations across San Francisco, with two more stations coming soon in the surrounding area. Customers register online or in person and can then use the DriveNow website or a mobile app to locate and reserve an available vehicle.


The vehicle can be returned to the pick-up location or any other DriveNow station - so one-way trips are also possible. Through a partnership with California company Coulomb Technologies and use of its ChargePoint network, drivers can easily locate the nearest charging point, in case they need to charge the vehicle during their unlimited rental.

DriveNow was launched in Germany in June 2011 as a car-sharing joint venture between BMW Group and car rental company Sixt. It now has about 45 000 members in Munich, Berlin and Düsseldorf and will also be available soon in Cologne.

In the US, however, DriveNow is a wholly-owned by BMW.


This electronic mobile parking service allows users to reserve a parking space in advance, at a guaranteed, clearly-defined rate. Customers can either use the ParkNow iPhone app to find a parking space, or reserve one, pay for it and get directions directly to it through the ParkNow website.

This reduces both the time involved in finding a parking space and the environmental impact of driving round in square circles looking for one. BMW and Urban Mobility are currently setting up 14 ParkNow stations in and around San Francisco.

There are no plans at this stage to bring DriveNow or ParkNow to South Africa.