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Some 70 BMW i3 REX electric cars are part of ReachNow carshare in Seattle
Some 70 BMW i3 REX electric cars are part of ReachNow carshare in Seattle

Inside ReachNow: BMW's Mobility Service

By Bill Moore

EV World speaks with ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield about the just over a year-old mobility service based on BMW and Mini brand vehicles, including the i3 electric car.

"At the turn of the century Ice companies thought they were selling ice, but realized what they were selling was refrigeration. We’ve come to realize what we’re selling is mobility.” That's Ford Motor Company futurist Sheryl Connelly on the growing recognition by global carmakers that the 20th century model of individual car ownership is slowly being supplanted by the notion of shared mobility: many people using the same vehicle for short periods of time, a much more sustainable and financially sound investment. [See earlier "Prepare to be Disrupted" interview with Tony Ceba ]

And Ford isn't alone. GM has Maven. Daimler has "Car2Go" and BMW has, as of a little a year ago, ReachNow, an "ecosystem," to quote its CEO Steve Banfield, of mobility services based on both BMW and Mini brands. Launched first in Seattle in early 2016 where it currently has some 700 cars in circulation, it now has operations in Portland, OR and in Brooklyn, NY. Encouragingly, 10% of the Seattle fleet are i3 REX electric car, the range-extended version, similar to the one featured above.

Operating a mobility service isn't something new to BMW, they've participated in several joint ventures in 11 European city (they've just added the 12th) for a number of years now. Those systems have some 800,000 members. The USA launch is solely a BMW Group project and is the outgrowth of an earlier pilot program in San Francisco that rolled up 2015.

In this 28-minute interview, Banfield discusses the goals of the company, which might seem, on the surface, to conflict with the very raison d'etre of a car manufacturer which is to sell more cars to more people, not fewer. Besides its shared car business, it's also allied with a company called Eluminocity to install charging stations on specially engineered light poles. EV World is planning a future interview with that company.

You can listen to our discussion using the embedded player or download the MP3 file to your personal computer for playback on your favorite device. And be sure to LIKE this page on Twitter and Facebook, as well as share on Reddit and other social media.

Times Article Viewed: 11800
Originally published: 16 Jun 2017

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