BMW wants to have the ‘coolest’ car-sharing service in town

BMW ReachNow
BMW says it has ambitions to create the “coolest” car-sharing service available, one that will ultimately be powered by its self-driving technology.

Pushing ahead with its autonomous car project, the German automaker on Friday revealed plans for a new test center in Munich set to open next year, Reuters reported.

BMW says it hopes to have as many as 40 self-driving cars on the streets of Munich’s inner city before taking the trials to other locations throughout the country.

The news follows Ford’s announcement last week of its plan to expand its autonomous car trials beyond the U.S. with road tests lined up for the U.K. and Germany. Ford president and CEO Mark Fields said earlier this year that the next decade “will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.”

Volvo, too, is expected to begin testing its self-driving technology in London next year, allowing regular families to use its vehicles in everyday settings.

Many of these car companies are looking to launch their self-driving vehicles as part of car-sharing services in the next few years in the belief that consumer-ready autonomous cars are still a ways off. Creating self-driving vehicles for such services should offer automakers new revenue streams via both car sales and partnerships with service providers where income can be shared.

Demonstrating its growing interest in the sector, BMW launched ReachNow in Seattle, Washington in April. The pay-by-the-minute service uses an app to help you locate the nearest of more than 350 BMW-owned ReachNow vehicles parked on the city’s streets. Once you’re done with the car, you simply park it within a designated area in the city, leaving it for the next user. The service has since expanded to Portland, Oregon, and Brooklyn in New York City.

Tony Douglas, Head of Strategy for BMW’s mobility services, said its ReachNow service in Seattle saw 14,000 people sign up in just four days, impressive considering the city is already served by the likes of Uber, Zipcar, Lyft, and Car2go.

“Someone else spent the money to educate the market and then we came in with a cool product,” Douglas told Reuters, adding, “We will not be the largest, but we can be the coolest.” Of course, whether it can really become “the coolest” is ultimately down to the opinion of the riders, so we’ll just to wait and see if the German automaker can deliver on that particular claim.

BMW is targeting 2021 for the unveiling of its first fully autonomous car.


Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Self-driving cars, ocean exploration, and holiday shopping

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discussed the first self-driving car service in Phoenix, an expedition heading to the bottom of the world's oceans, and talked to Liz Dunn from Pro4ma about holiday shopping trends.

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.

This freewheeling Army truck-turned-tiny home is a labor of love

Most tiny homes are models of efficiency but one British metal worker has redefined the idea, converting an old Army truck into a mobile tiny home that comes with a bed, a sofa, a shower, and a beer garden.

Take a friend stargazing at 202 mph in the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider

McLaren has introduced the 2019 720S Spider. As its name implies, it's a convertible variant of the 720S coupe. The company promises the Spider retains the coupe's dynamism and agility thanks in part to the widespread use of carbon fiber.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.

Gateway’s born-again Ford Bronco boasts classic style, 2018 muscle car power

Illinois-based Gateway Bronco has received a license from Ford to make brand-new examples of the first-generation Bronco. Every build starts with a Ford VIN and a donor vehicle, but Gateway upgrades every part of the car.

Bloodhound’s plan to build a 1,000-mph car has run out of gas

The Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) project has officially shut down. The upside is you can now buy a 135,000-horsepower car powered by a jet engine and a cluster of rockets for $319,000.

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?

Pininfarina Battista is a 1,900-horsepower, 250-mph electric supercar

The Pininfarina Battista will be the first production car from famed Italian design firm Pininfarina. Named after company founder Battista Pininfarina, it has a claimed 1,900 horsepower and a $2.5 million price tag.
Cars is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.