Thu, Mar 08, 2018 - Page 10 News List

BMW mulling scooter ride sharing in congested cities

‘GETTING INTERESTING’:Daimler and BMW have been in talks to combine their car-sharing units to boost scale. The use rate is now 15%, but the firms are eyeing 30%


BMW AG would like to start offering up the back seat on motorbikes and scooters to get around congested cities — if the issue of helmets could be solved.

“This is definitely an option, but we haven’t found the solution for the second helmet yet,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, who heads BMW’s Mini, Rolls-Royce and motorcycle brands, said in an interview at the Geneva International Motor Show. “There’s the issue of sizing and then reusing helmets in the summer heat — it’s not ideal.”

BMW already offers car sharing via its DriveNow brand, with which customers can rent vehicles by the minute.

As a first step to bring motorcycles to a broader audience, the Munich-based carmaker is to start a pilot in May allowing people to rent bikes via an app from dealers for a few days at a time, starting in Germany, France and Austria.

The potential broadening of services are steps in a plan to grow BMW’s customer base threefold to 100 million users by 2025.

To meet growing demand for agile two-wheelers skirting congestion in cities, BMW is considering a second electric scooter, Schwarzenbauer said.

The new model would be smaller than the existing C evolution maxi-scooter that has a driving range of about 160km, he said, declining to give more details.

“Quite aside from ride-sharing, in many cities, we’ll see more mobility on two wheels,” he said.

The most lively markets thus far for motorcycle ride sharing have been in Southeast Asia. Honda Motor Co invested in Singapore-based Grab in 2016 and partnered with the firm that has offered motorbike-hailing services in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

PT Go-Jek Indonesia PT pioneered the business model and could become the nation’s first US$1 billion start-up to hold an initial public offering.

Schwarzenbauer declined to comment on whether the company plans to combine DriveNow with Daimler AG’s Car2Go service.

The two carmakers have been in talks to put together their respective car-sharing units to gain scale, people familiar with the matter said. Both have bought out their respective partners, marking steps toward a potential combination.

“Size is the deciding factor with this kind of offering,” Schwarzenbauer said. “We’re currently at a use rate of around 15 percent. From a rate of 30 percent, then it really gets interesting.”

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