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ReachNow’s MINI Cooper Countryman vehicles. (BMW Photo)

Update, 8:25 p.m.: ReachNow published a blog post on Tuesday evening, noting that “in the short term while we are testing a solution, we recommend that you avoid bringing cars onto the ferry.”

Original story: After three incidents of vehicles getting stuck this past Memorial Day weekend, officials from Washington State Ferries recommend that drivers avoid using BMW ReachNow cars if they plan to ride on a ferry.

A Washington State Ferries spokesman confirmed that three separate ReachNow vehicles, part of BMW’s car-sharing service, were stuck on ferries on Saturday evening due to an issue with a security feature. Two vehicles, which customers can rent with their smartphone for a per-minute fee, had to be towed off — one in Mukilteo and one in Bainbridge — while another was able to be driven off at Colman Dock in Seattle.

GeekWire reported about the issues on Monday. ReachNow said it is investigating the problem, which is “related to a security feature built into the vehicles that kicks in when the car is moving but the engine is turned off and the doors are closed,” a ReachNow spokesperson said Monday.

The state ferry system won’t let passengers abandon a car on the ferry because of security concerns.

“We’re in touch with Reach and will work with them where possible as they work to find a solution,” said Ian Sterling, public information officer for Washington State Ferries. “For now, we’re recommending that customers refrain from driving a ReachNow vehicle aboard a state ferry. If a customer chooses to do so, ReachNow recommends that they carry their key card and leave the vehicle unlocked.”

It’s not clear why this has been happening to some ReachNow customers but not to others. ReachNow customers can drive anywhere, hypothetically, so long as they drop off the vehicle in the designated “Home Area,” which does not include ferry destinations on routes from Seattle. But you can take a ReachNow trip across the water and come back to the city — BMW offers special long-term rates for these types of transportation scenarios.

ReachNow last year made its worldwide debut in Seattle, its first location, before launching in Portland and Brooklyn. It has 45,000 members across the three cities. BMW is looking to expand in the Seattle region; it already had 700 vehicles in the area, up from 370 at launch. The company is also testing a ride-hailing Uber competitor in Seattle called Ride.

Update: Here’s the full text of the ReachNow post.

Over Memorial Day weekend, a few members in Seattle had trouble with ReachNow cars [on] the ferry. While the use of ferries has been one of the most popular ways for members to get out of town on the weekend, we believe that some of the issues that members faced are attributed to a security feature built into our cars. This can happen when the car is moving but the car engine is off and the doors are locked.

In the short term while we are testing a solution, we recommend that you avoid bringing cars onto the ferry. If using a ferry is the only way to get where you are planning to go, we recommend that you bring your Member Key Card and leave a door unlocked during the crossing. Should you encounter any issues while using a car on the ferry, please contact member support directly at 1-844-732-2466.

We are working with Washington State Ferries and currently conducting thorough testing to determine a solution that will give you confidence to use our service on any ferry trip.

More updates to come on this soon.


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