Mini Countryman is among the cars on offer in the scheme
Three London boroughs are taking part in the scheme
DriveNow allows drivers to borrow vehicles and leave them at their destination in the boroughs of Islington, Hackney and Haringey.
After a one-off registration fee of £29, users are charged 39p per minute – with an hourly cap of £20 – enabling users to make one-way journeys within the boroughs. Users can locate and open nearby cars with the DriveNow app.
The DriveNow fleet consists of 270 cars, with 210 BMW 1-series – all with one booster seat in the back – and 60 Mini Countryman already deployed in London. 30 i3s will join the fleet in April 2015.
Other car sharing schemes, such as Daimler's Car2Go, have tried and failed to enter the London market, but Peter Schwarzenbauer, on the board of management at BMW, is convinced DriveNow will be a success.
“The cars in our fleet are the best product offer in the car sharing market. We learned a lot in the six pilot cities we had in Germany, and now we know how to make it a success in London,” he said.
The scheme already has 360,000 customers across seven cities in Germany and America but will face competition from electric car sharing scheme Autolib which will be launching in London next year following its success in Paris.
Piers Scott, general manager of corporate communications at BMW, believes DriveNow has the edge over its competitors because users are able to drop off their car anywhere in the boroughs rather than at designated stations, including residential parking spaces.
Ben Plowden, director of strategy and planning for surface transport in London sees the launch of DriveNow as an “important part of the jigsaw” in easing the pressure on London roads.
Plowden said: “We want as many people as possible to have access to a car where that it's the best mode of transport for the trip they want to make, without the need to own a car all the time.”
Having just launched yesterday, DriveNow are already looking to increase their working area in London. Scott said: “We are already talking to other boroughs to expand the service.”