Portlanders will soon have another way to get around town.
There is no official launch date but BMW is working with city officials and will start testing its Portland fleet in the next two weeks. Details about what types of vehicles and the exact number of cars have yet to be released.
This past April, BMW debuted ReachNow in Seattle and placed 370 free-floating vehicles — a mix of BMW 328xi Series sedans, MINI Coopers, and the all-electric BMW i3 — around town, allowing people to get from Point A to Point B within a “Home Area” that encompasses much of Seattle proper.
ReachNow called its launch in Seattle “extremely successful” and has since added more 150 vehicles and expanded its service area. It racked up more than 13,000 members in its first month; BMW hasn’t released updated member numbers since then. There were nearly 300,000 total miles driven by members as of June 28, which is around 240 trips per day if an average trip is, say, 15 miles.
There was one hiccup last month, though, after an AT&T connectivity issue caused a big outage during the 4th of July weekend.
In a statement, ReachNow Chief Customer Officer Sandra Phillips said that “Portland has received national acclaim for its transportation solutions, and we’re thrilled to become part of the city’s transportation future.”
In Portland, BMW will compete directly with Daimler-owned Car2go, which launched in the Rose City four years ago. Car2go is larger than ReachNow in Seattle (750 vs. 520 vehicles) and has more than 45,000 members using 465 Smart car vehicles in Portland.
It’s not yet clear what arrangement BMW will have with Portland transportation officials — these deals allow BMW customers to use city parking spots without having to pay parking fees — but Car2go pays the city $50 a year for each car and $430 a year per car for district parking permits. It also pays the city for meter revenue each quarter, or in other words, the full amount that any privately-owned vehicle would have paid when parked at metered spots.
“It’s no surprise to us that followers are starting to see what we saw when we first launched here four years ago, that Portland is a great city for carsharing,” Ken Hills, Car2go’s Portland GM, said in a statement. “At car2go we believe that the more mass transit, carsharing and ridesharing options people have, the better and we welcome them to join us in our mission to alleviate traffic and parking congestion while improving quality of life in Stumptown.”
Car2go also charges lower by-the-minute, hourly, and daily rates in Seattle. ReachNow, however, charges a lower rate when vehicles are parked, and is temporarily slashing its membership sign-up fee while matching Car2go’s per-minute rate.
Uber and Lyft were legalized in Portland this past December.
ReachNow, meanwhile, has ambitions for much more than just the free-floating car-sharing program. Steve Banfield, ReachNow CEO, told GeekWire in May that there are plans to launch a number of other services, including a concierge option where BMW brings you a vehicle, instead of you having to find one yourself; an Uber and Lyft competitor that will allow people to earn revenue by driving other users around in ReachNow cars; a way for people to drop off ReachNow vehicles at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before boarding a flight, or to pick one up after they get off the plane; or a way for BMW owners to lease their own cars within the ReachNow network.
ReachNow has its North American operations based in Seattle. It will launch in two additional cities this year, with plans to eventually service 10 North American metros.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect how much Car2go pays the City of Portland in fees.