MUNICH -- BMW AG is introducing a car-sharing scheme in two German cities that will be extended across Europe and possibly to the United States.
The German premium automaker has set up a 50-50 joint venture with Sixt, Germany's biggest car rental company, to run the scheme. The venture is called DriveNow and it aims to win 1 million customers by 2020.
BMW joins Daimler AG and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen SA in launching short-term rental offers that give people access to a car without the cost of ownership.
BMW sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson said the venture is an answer to the trend away from car ownership in big cities. "We are aiming to launch a profitable new line of business while at the same time introducing potential new customers to our brands," he said at DriveNow's launch in Munich on Monday.
Robertson said DriveNow customers will be able to rent a car "on the spur of the moment" if they need the vehicle for a trip into the city or a day out.
DriveNow will launch April 1 in Munich and shortly after that in Berlin. BMW said further European cities will be added in the coming years and the long-term plan is to introduce DriveNow on other continents, although Robertson declined to reveal when the scheme might launch in the United States.
The scheme will offer for rent 300 BMW 1 series and Mini cars in Munich and 500 in Berlin. Other models will be added later depending on demand. The cars will be parked at different locations around the cities. Drivers will be able to book them on the Internet or with a smartphone app, then access the vehicle with a chip embedded in their driver's license.