If you want to see a congested city, see San Francisco, California. With an estimated 448,000 parking spots, you wouldn’t think finding a place for a car would be too tough. Except there are more than 50,000 cars in the city than there are spots in which to park them. That’s quite a dilemma.
Fortunately, programs like ParkNow are starting to crop up to alleviate some of the congestion. ParkNow allows drivers to pre-pay for a designated spot and hold it for a given time period. It’s part of BMW’s Urban Mobility plan that kicks off this September. Further, Urban Mobility falls under BMW i, the sub-brand that’s spawning the i3 and i8 electric cars in 2014.
Partnering with the city of San Francisco and its neighboring areas like tech-rich Palo Alto, ParkNow will be located within 14 areas in and around the city. All drivers will have to do is make a reservation online, which shouldn’t be a problem with BMW Apps mobile service. BMW hopes to eventually spread the ParkNow service to other areas throughout the city, totaling more than 100 parking lots in the coming weeks.
BMW’s Urban Mobility is also creating and expanding RideNow, a car-sharing program. Operating much the same as any other car-sharing service, BMW’s has a unique distinction: the 70 BMW ActiveE 1 Series coupes in its fleet. As all-electric cars, they will be available at many of the same locations–such as airports, metro stations, and municipal offices–as the ParkNow program. There will also be charging stations available at all the lots for the electric cars.
Best of all, with a rental of an ActiveE, there is no time restriction on charging the car, due in part to the nature of how long it can sometimes take. BMW will let ActiveE drivers use its power outlets without any additional fees.
For BMW and San Francisco, this deal is win-win. In a city that prides itself in being ecologically ahead of the curve to the point of obnoxiousness, this is a good way to promote its green snob appeal. And for BMW, it’s exposure for its new brands. And exposure around a city as large as San Francisco is a good thing. A very good thing.
Let’s see if BMW starts leveraging its car-sharing and congestion-management programs in other parts of the nation.