After seeing the huge popularity of China’s shared bicycle startups, a brand-new company in China is rolling out BMWs that you access with your phone and then pay for per kilometer.
After a returnable deposit of US$150 made through the service’s mobile app, it costs just US$0.25 per kilometer to drive off in one of the new, blue BMW 1-series sedans.
As with virtually all of China’s sharing startups – technically just rental services – the process begins with a QR code.
That leads to the #startup’s app, in which you’ll see an Uber-esque screen showing nearby BMWs that are up for grabs.
Alternatively, you can rent one of its BMW 1-series sedans – a China-only model that costs from US$30,000 – for an entire day for just US$30.
Not much is known about the company behind this, reports Ebrun, except that it’s named Hongyang Shared Cars, and was established last month in Beijing. It has an Android app, but not one for iPhones.
Shortly after the startup hit the headlines, a video emerged of a similarly colored BMW – with stickers on the side – being hooned.
The firm’s founder, Sui Hongyang, took to Weibo – his only post on the social network – to say the video does not show one of his company’s vehicles. “Not one of ours. False,” he posted, whilst retweeting the hoonage video.
The blue BMWs can only be driven in central Shenyang, the northeastern Chinese city of 8 million people where the service was launched with a claimed 1,500 cars – all of which are from the same brand.
The car can be left anywhere in the city once you’re done using it.
Germany’s luxury automakers are cautiously trying out their own car sharing services, though their efforts have largely focused on a handful of US cities.
BMW’s Reachnow is available in Seattle, Portland, and New York’s Brooklyn, while Mercedes-Benz’s Car2Go has ventured further afield, with locations across the US, Canada, and Europe. Car2Go also operates in China’s Chongqing, but it’s restricted to Smart cars, rather than Mercedes’ regular cars.