A new car hire scheme called DriveNow launched in London on Thursday. It’s basically the motorised equivalent of the city’s famed Boris Bikes.
Boris Bikes is the name given to London’s fleet of pay-per-hire cycles, which can be picked up and returned to different docking stations around the capital and paid for with a debit or credit card.
DriveNow is BMW’s car hire service. It’s different to most others, which require reservations and set time frames. Instead, it works on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Users have to pay a registration fee of £29, and then look for free cars nearby via the DriveNow smartphone app. The company operates a 39 pence-per-minute policy, with a £20 cap. It’s 32-pence-per minute for members who regularly use it.
It gets a lot more expensive when using its packages, which start at £35 for three hours and end at £120 for 24 hours.
Importantly, the cars are available for one-way trips — after use they can be parked anywhere within a certain area of the city. That’s different to other car hire services like Zipcar, where cars have to be returned to a designated lot.
DriveNow is currently available in three London boroughs, Islington, Hackney, and Haringey, but is in talks to expand to other areas of London. In the future, the company sees other core UK cities, such as Birmingham and Manchester, as places to move in to.
Joseph Seal-Driver, head of operations in the UK, says DriveNow is changing the way people get around. He tells Business Insider: “We’re encouraging spontaneity. We’re different to other services. I think what sets us apart is that we don’t have pre-booking and are completely flexible — it suits urban areas.”
The company, which uses the BMW 1 Series and the MINI Countryman exclusively, was first launched in Germany three years ago. The company currently operates in eight European cities and DriveNow hopes to achieve similar success in London, its eighth market.
“If I want to drive to a restaurant, a quick journey to a restaurant with my girlfriend would cost less than a taxi (a standard charge would be £7.80 for 20 minutes)” Seal-Driver says. “And then I could just park it and leave it there — so I can have a few drinks.”
Ben Plowden from Transport for London, said in a statement provided by DriveNow: “The mayor and TfL has long supported the growth of car sharingschemes across London, as they can help encourage more alternative travel choices.”
Here are some of the cars in action:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.