The tech explosion of the past 20 years has shown us, more than anything else, that if you combine greed with imitation, you get competitors. Now that Uber (McDonalds) and Lyft (Burger King) came up with the idea of “ride sharing,” along comes BMW with its entry into the game, ReachNow (Wendy’s). The burger joint analogy is on purpose. Anybody can run a good mom & pop burger joint, but going national and franchising your operation?
That’s a little more tricky.
Two In One
ReachNow is the mobility services division of BMW Group, maker of all things fast, boxy, and Bavarian. ReachNow says they are famous for being “the first company to operate both car sharing and ride hailing within a single app.” Sure, but I’ve never heard of it. This app, what ReachNow refers to as a “suite of mobility solutions,” can do essentially more than one thing, transportation-wise.
ReachNow was first rolled out as a multimodal (i.e. more than one kind of transportation) strategy at Automobility LA in November 2016, and now they are putting it out in the real world to see how it works. Or, at least they’re putting it out in Seattle, which may or may not count as “real.”
What sets ReachNow apart from say, Lyft or Zipcar, is that ReachNow combines all of those services into one, big service. With this, you can get a short term vehicle, like a Zipcar sort of deal, or you can just get a ride from point A to B, like with a Lyft. ReachNow allows you to personalized your level of comfort, and also customize your individual plan based on convenience or cost.
Let’s break this down . . .
Piece By Piece
“Drive or ride” means customers (ReachNow calls them members) can choose between driving themselves via car sharing or getting a ride from the ride hailing service. Slick. If you choose to drive yourself, you can select from a fleet of hundreds of BMW and MINI vehicles, which sounds like fun. You pay by the minute, by the hour or by the day, meaning that ReachNow offers all the non-car-ownership options: ride, drive for a bit, or rent for a while.
The “go now or go later” option allows you the choice between an immediate, on-demand pick up or planning ahead and scheduling a pick up. You can reserve your transportation needs from 20 minutes to up to seven days in advance, which should come in handy for doing things like getting rides to the airport and such.
With the “personalized comfort” part of the app, you can individualize the in-vehicle experience by setting your temperature and music preferences beforehand. You can also select a “quiet time” feature if you wish to not be disturbed during the trip. You know, this way you keep your interactions with another living, breathing, feeling human down to the absolute minimum.
Another nifty feature is, once you reserve a ReachNow car, the destination will be sent automatically to the in-vehicle navigation. Nice.
Pricing & Availability
ReachNow users in Seattle will be the first to get the full experience, with the sign up fee waived for new members who want to try the Ride portion only. The standard ReachNow Ride pricing starts at a $3.24 minimum, with a $2.40/mile plus $0.40/minute premium (no surge pricing).
The app works on both iPhone and Android devices.
On a final note, let me add this: As a longtime Seattleite, this can’t make things any worse. I hope. Traveling around Seattle is a never-ending Boschian nightmare. 95 percent of the drivers are lack-whit sub-morons, the traffic planning is designed by sadists (I think), and the level of road maintenance makes you think you’re driving in Mogadishu, not Queen Anne.
None of this would matter if Seattle had a workable public transportation system, but it doesn’t. So if BMW’s scheme works, more the better. It’ll get you knuckle-dragging gibbons off the roads. I hope.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz