BMW Financial Services next month is kicking off BMW On Demand USA – a service the company already provides in European cities – that enables people to easily rent a BMW by the hour, day or week from dealerships.
The first location, BMW of Manhattan, is considered a pilot, and will have about 100 328i sedans in the fleet. According to Ed Robinson, president of BMW Financial, the makeup of the fleet will change over time. But the all-328i lineup to start reflects the newest product from BMW and the one the company wants to push right now.
Other logical cities to follow will be Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Miami. But the service could easily spread to smaller cities with smaller fleets.
Pricing for checking a 328i out like a library book will be announced in August. The website to go to is www.bmwondemandusa.com.
The business model for the program has multiple layers. It gives dealers in urban centers a fleet of cars from which to provide extended test drives. It also gives luxury car owners a readily available pool of premium cars to rent that you can't get from Hertz or Avis. And it is part of a longer-term trend BMW sees of an increasing number of urban dwellers not wanting to own cars at all. "We have seen the research that shows as cities become more dense, the desire for car ownership goes down, but the desire to drive cars to get out of town stays constant," says Robinson.
In time, the On Demand fleet will be expanded to include other BMWs like the new 7 Series coming later this year, X5 and X3, and possibly specialty vehicles like the M3 and M5. Robinson said that with specialty vehicles, though, drivers would probably go through an extra layer of qualification.
"BMW On Demand USA goes beyond any existing premium-rental or car-sharing programs in this market," said Robinson. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, nor Audi have any similar service that is scaled like this. "This is a great opportunity for anyone who is considering buying a BMW or someone who wants a luxury car, premium service and ultimate driving experience for that special occasion, weekend getaway, business trip to experience being part of the BMW family."