All about self

December 9, 2016 in transport

BMW is looking to roll out a self-driving vehicle trial in Munich featuring a fleet of 40 cars operating in the inner city. The Bavarian car maker is rising to the mobility challenge posed by ride-hailing services but reckons it has an important edge. “Uber and Lyft do not operate their own fleets of cars,” says BMW’s CEO Harald Krueger. “Owning the fleet means you can make offers that Lyft and others are unable to provide. For example, providing car sharing for a specific community only.”

But while the Munich test vehicles will still carry drivers, BMW clearly sees mere humans as a hindrance to profits. “Ride-hailing is nothing more than manual autonomous driving,” Tony Douglas, head of strategy for BMW’s mobility services, points out. “Once you dispense with the driver you have a license to print money.”

BMW is pretty happy with its up-on-running ReachNow car-sharing service in Seattle where 14,000 people signed up to the offering in just four days, and that in a city already occupied by Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, and Car2go. Using ReachNow, drivers can access fleets of BMW and Mini cars within a specified area, and are charged by the minute for usage.

BMW is making a play on vehicle innovation. Its BMW iVentures VC arm recently got an injection of funds to €500 million and moved operations to Silicon Valley to be closer to the area’s plethora of mobility start-ups.

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