BMW-owned ReachNow is bringing its ride-hailing and car-sharing services into one app as it takes on Uber, Lyft, and traditional rental companies in the rapidly-changing transportation industry.
ReachNow originally launched a car-sharing service two years ago, rolling out hundreds of free-floating vehicles in Seattle that people can rent and drive. Last summer it began testing a ride-hailing product called Ride that uses the same fleet but instead lets customers hail a professional driver — a direct competitor to Uber and Lyft.
With a big app update this week, ReachNow is bringing both services together in one place as Ride comes out of beta. It’s the first time a transportation company has done so and follows similar attempts to consolidate mobility options in one place.
The new design features a destination bar that provides a price estimate and ETA for either an available car or Ride vehicle.
For those renting a car, a destination is now automatically sent to the in-car navigation system. Soon you’ll be able to enter your pin number from the app, versus inside the car, to start and end a trip.
ReachNow also added new on-boarding information for drivers, providing basic tips and advice for how to operate the BMW, BMW i, and MINI vehicles.
Customers hailing a Ride car can set the radio station, temperature, and request “Quiet Mode.” They can also schedule a Ride pick-up for later, from 20 minutes to up to seven days in advance. Uber and Lyft also have this feature.
ReachNow splits up its fleet for Ride and car-sharing depending on the time of day and area of the city. For example, on a Saturday night in Seattle’s busy Capitol Hill neighborhood, it might make more Ride drivers available versus shared cars.
Ride is only available in Seattle; ReachNow also operates car-sharing fleets in Portland and New York. The rate starts with a $3.24 minimum and includes a $2.40 per-mile charge, plus $0.40 per minute. That’s slightly higher than UberX and Lyft prices; however, there is no surge pricing.
ReachNow drivers are paid hourly, in addition to incremental compensation for trips. Uber and Lyft drivers are paid per ride.
Simon Broesamle, chief customer officer with ReachNow, said the company went through 40 iterations of the redesign before landing on the final version. He said the app, which has below a 3-star rating on the App Store and Google Play, “has not lived up to our standards.” ReachNow analyzed member data and feedback gathered over the past two years to drive the changes.
“It’s been our No. 1 priority over the past eight months,” he said. “We wanted to completely reinvent the experience.”
ReachNow is not only challenging Uber and Lyft, but traditional car rental companies as well. Broesamle said lots of people rent a car for multiple days and go out of town; ReachNow offers discounted prices for multi-hour or multi-day use. ReachNow will also soon allow members to schedule a free-floating car up to 30 days in advance and have the vehicle delivered to a location of their choice.
Other use cases include people renting cars on the weekends for several hours to run errands, or for rides to and from the airport, where ReachNow has a dedicated lot in Seattle and Portland.
ReachNow has more than 1,000 vehicles across Seattle (700), Portland, and New York, where it recently ended its free-floating service but still operates a residential building fleet. It is also providing dedicated vehicles for apartment buildings in Seattle and Intel employees in Portland.
ReachNow, which agreed to merge with Daimler-owned rival car2go in March, is one of several new tech-fueled options that help people move around a city without owning a car. The app-based transportation kicked into gear when Uber and Lyft gained traction several years ago and a rush of other services are now available, from car-sharing apps like Getaround to the scooters that are attracting immense amounts of venture capital dollars.
Broesamle said ReachNow will continue to find new ways to leverage its vehicles and add more contextually-relevant personalization features. It plans to partner with other companies, like bike-sharing services, for example. A loyalty program could also come in the future.
“What is the Amazon Prime of mobility?” he said. “We want to create an ecosystem that is so compelling that people come back to us as the go-to place each and every time.”
ReachNow employs 64 people, with 60 in Seattle. It has nearly 100,000 members across the three cities who have traveled 12 million shared miles. A spokesperson declined to provide details about city expansion.