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Reinventing The Wheel

Auto brands embrace the car-share model

The auto industry has endured its fair share of disruption by young drivers who are opting out of the traditional concept of buying and owning cars. Rather than throw in the towel, brands are adapting, offering new usage models, ranging from group purchasing options to updated insurance plans. Many are also embracing the car-sharing economy, either by offering their own models to rent or by providing platforms for drivers.

CROOVE

Mercedes-Benz is getting into the car sharing groove with its new service Croove. Interestingly, users need not own a Mercedes to make use of the brand’s latest offering. Rather, anyone open to sharing their vehicle with other drivers can register it via the app or website, provided that it is in good working condition and not more than 15 years old. Renters can browse available cars, make their selection, and then arrange to meet to pick up the keys. To make this last step less of a hassle, the company is looking into a PIN-based keyless entry system.

YUKO CAR CLUB

Named for the Japanese word for “let’s go,” Toyota’s YUKO Car Club provides an outlet for drivers who seek to rent eco-friendly electric vehicles. The service launched in Dublin with 15 cars, including Prius, Auris, and Yaris models, with plans to expand both in number and models offered. The vehicles are stationed around the city’s center, and once drivers sign up, they can select an available vehicle for hourly, overnight, or daily rates. They have to pick up and drop off vehicles at the same location, though as an added perk, the vehicles include free on-street parking. Toyota is working with corporate partners and local hotels to help grow the program.

REACHNOW

BMW is in the midst of its second attempt at offering a premium option for the the car-sharing market with ReachNow. The evolution of the erstwhile DriveNow service, which shuttered in 2015, the new offering is enjoying success, expanding beyond Seattle to the Portland area. The company’s goal is to eventually have the platform operational in 10 U.S. cities. ReachNow is powered by RideCell, a San Francisco-based startup with backing from BMW that specializes in vehicle logistics. Users can get behind the wheel of either a BMW or MINI model for as little as $.49 per minute, with special rates for 3-, 12-, and 24-hour rentals.