BMW Adds ParkNow to DriveNow Program

An all-electric fleet of BMWs awaits drivers who just need to run an errand or pick up a friend in San Francisco.

By Jason Middleton
|  Friday, Aug 24, 2012  |  Updated 10:36 AM PDT
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The ParkNow initiative allows users to find an open space via their mobile phone, preventing the need to circle and circle the block, burning up gas and heating up the atmosphere.

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Parking in San Francisco can be an exercise in futility, circling and circling the block for an open space. With 505,000 vehicles in the city at one time, and only 448,000 parking spaces available, all the BART and Muni brought to bear won't change that math.

Enter BMW I-Ventures and the ParkNow and DriveNow initiatives. (Super-slick concept car in this video link.)

"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," Ian Robertson, BMW board member, said in a news release.

ParkNow is appropriately techy solution to alleviate traffic as well as greenhouse gas emissions: it's an online and mobile service that allows drivers to pay for parking in advance, with turn-by-turn directions to an open space.

The pilot program features 14 ParkNow locations in and around San Francisco near BART, Muni and bike-sharing stations, as well as at San Francisco and Oakland airports and in Palo Alto.

Plans are to add about 100 more stations in the coming weeks. ParkNow debuts in September.

The DriveNow car-sharing service launched in June with 70 ActiveE all-electric BMWs. There are eight DriveNow stations in SF. More stations are expected at SFO and in Palo Alto. Of course, there's an app for that -- drivers can reserve a car, for round trips or one-way drop-offs at other stations.

BMW told Wired there's a one-time $39 activation fee, then drivers pay $12 for the first half hour and $0.32 for each additional driving minute. An entire day, up to 180 miles, is $90 and additional miles are $0.55 each.

The average rental price in a German pilot program is 27 minutes. There's a $750 deductible attached to the included collision and liability insurance.

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