BMW's ReachNow expands to Brooklyn, adds key mobility services

bmw-reachnow-image
It has been a busy seven months for BMW’s carsharing service, ReachNow. Following a pilot launch in Seattle, the company quickly expanded to Portland, Oregon, and will now operate in Brooklyn, New York as well.

ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield announced the service’s third city, along with several new mobility services, at this year’s Automobility LA Technology Pavilion. Digital Trends sat down with Banfield following the press conference to review the startup’s aggressive growth and vision for the future.

The ReachNow app, to this point, has functioned purely as a carsharing solution. Seattle and Portland residents could download the app, reserve a BMW i3, BMW 328i, BMW X1, Mini Cooper, or Mini Clubman, and drive for any number of miles at a rate of $0.49 cents per minute of operation ($0.30 cents per minute that the car is parked).

Thus far, ReachNOW’s 32,000 members have logged over 1.2 million miles behind the wheel.

While this service has represented forward thinking among mainstream automakers, it hasn’t been innovative across the entire carsharing market. ReachNow’s latest mobility solutions, however, are far more advanced.

“Today, we’re trying to make good on all of the promises we made at our launch in Seattle,” said Banfield.

steve-banfield_reachnow
ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield

Within the next month, ReachNow members will be able to request a ride on-demand, schedule rentals with delivery, loan vehicles from residential addresses, reserve cars for several days, and rent out their own Mini vehicles. Additionally, the ReachNow app is getting a series of updates to improve its functionality and speed.

“All of these services are available within one app, one brand … we are now truly a mobility company,” stated Banfield. “We want to touch on every possible way someone would move around their city — whether they want to drive, be driven, own a car, or share it.”

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what’s coming between now and early 2017:

Ride: ReachNow’s direct challenge to ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft will be its “Ride” option. Members can book rides with a driver on-demand, or schedule recurring rides. Seattle will be the first city to test this new function, starting December 8. ReachNow also plans to offer vehicle customization (music and temperature preferences) in the coming months.

Share: For a while, BMW has described a future where owners can rent out their cars when they aren’t using them. The industry consensus has been that this vision would materialize sometime after autonomous technology was broadly incorporated, but ReachNow isn’t waiting. “Share” will let owners of 2016 and 2017 model year Minis loan their cars to other members for a minimum of two days. Seattle will again pilot this program, starting December 15.

Reserve: ReachNow has given members the opportunity to reserve cars for longer than two days since October, but now that functionality is a bit more seamless. Starting early next year, ReachNow will deliver cars to members who schedule longer-term loans.

Beyond these new services, BMW will begin planting ReachNow fleets at residences and businesses. Renters and employees will then have exclusive access to these cars instead of having to fight over vehicles scattered throughout the city.

ReachNow’s expansion to Brooklyn will add another 250 vehicles to its current fleet of 1,000, and moves the service beyond the west coast for the first time.

“ReachNow will serve as an extension to New York City’s subways and buses, offering additional flexibility to meet residents’ every need,” said a company representative. It’s clear that ReachNow’s new services add value for members, but the startup’s real merits are still on the way. As we chatted with Mr. Banfield, it became clear that ReachNow’s mobility programs and experiments are just as valuable to its owning entity, BMW.

“The longer term opportunity, as we roll out these services, is how autonomy will impact them,” noted Banfield. “Today, we’re building services that are about you driving or being driven, but as autonomous cars become available (BMW is committed to producing these cars by 2021), we will continue to leverage that. Our first autonomous cars may still require a driver, but you as the passenger may be able to request as much autonomous driving or as little autonomous driving as possible.”

This sounds exactly like a test bed for BMW’s understanding of how comfortable (or not) consumers are with the concept of turning over driving responsibility to a computer. Information about which factors put customers at ease with autonomy is invaluable, given the industry-wide transition that’s currently in progress.

If ReachNow’s growth continues, it will soon have a considerable sample size from which to farm insights.

Home Theater

Apple will reportedly launch its new video-streaming service at March 25 event

The rumors about what Apple will announce at a March 25 event continue to swirl. A new report suggests that it will debut its much-anticipated video-streaming service, which will compete with Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.
Mobile

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Mobile

Allstate’s SquareTrade buys phone repair service iCracked

Allstate may be looking to diversify its service a little. The company announced that SquareTrade, a company Allstate owns, is buying iCracked, a popular phone repair service that currently operates in more than 60 cities.
Home Theater

What is YouTube TV? Here’s everything you need to know the streaming service

YouTube TV is becoming an increasingly major competitor to other streaming services. Not sure if the service might be right for you? Don’t worry, we’ve got a guide detailing everything you could want to know about the service.
Cars

Volkswagen’s hot-rodded T-Roc R is ready to shred its tires to confetti

Volkswagen released a teaser sketch to preview a hot-rodded SUV named T-Roc R. Insiders suggest it will be closely related to the mighty Golf R, meaning it will pack a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at about 300…
Cars

Honda’s Urban EV is shaping up to be a high-tech, high-style electric city car

Honda will travel to the 2019 Geneva Auto Show to unveil a close-to-production prototype that previews an adorable, city-friendly electric car. The Urban EV will offer about 155 miles of range, and its interior is a tech lover's dream come…
Cars

Audi’s Geneva-bound Q4 E-Tron concept will give us a glimpse of the future

Audi has released a trio of teaser sketches to preview the Q4 E-Tron concept. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, the design study takes the form of an electric SUV with a muscular design and a tech-filled interior.
Cars

Tesla’s Dog Mode lets good Samaritans know that Fido’s A-OK

Tesla's latest over-the-air software update adds two features called Sentry Mode and Dog Mode. Sentry Mode records footage and alerts the owner if someone breaks in, while Dog Mode runs the A/C so owners can safely keep their dogs in their…
Cars

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.