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BMW Expands San Francisco Mobility Services To Include Parking

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (left) and BMW Group Board Member Dr. Ian Robertson at the press conference for ParkNow in San Francisco. Image credit: PRNewswire

BMW announced the upcoming launch of a mobile parking solution in San Francisco, CA, that will add to the company’s first car-sharing service also launched in the city in June.

ParkNow, which will be available to drivers beginning in September, enables users to pay for parking in advance, with guaranteed access and clearly defined rates, based on their personal preferences. Customers can search for parking using ParkNow's mobile app or website, reserve, pay and then be navigated directly to the parking facility.

There are currently 14 ParkNow locations in and around San Francisco piloting the system. Stations are located around the city, close to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway) and bike-sharing stations, as well as at San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport and further south in Palo Alto. Four ParkNow partner operators, ProPark America, Towne Park, ABM Parking and California Parking, will launch over 100 additional ParkNow locations in the coming weeks.

DriveNow, which launched in June in San Francisco, is a car-sharing program offering the opportunity to drive BMW's first all-electric vehicle, the BMW ActiveE. The fleet of 70 ActiveE vehicles is located at eight DriveNow Stations around San Francisco, with two additional stations in Palo Alto, and  coming soon to San Francisco International Airport. After registering online or in-person, customers can locate and book an available car using the DriveNow web site or mobile app. They can then return the car to any DriveNow Station, allowing for convenient one-way trips, if desired. Stations are located around the city, close to BART, MUNI and bike-sharing stations. Through a partnership with Coulomb Technologies' ChargePoint network drivers can locate a charging station if they need to top-off during the course of their rental, which has no time limit. Parking and charging is free at DriveNow Stations.

San Francisco is a prime candidate for smarter, greener parking systems, as well as strategies to reduce traffic congestion; prior to this service, the city was home to an estimated 505,000 vehicles, with only 448,000 parking spaces available at any given time. On weekdays, the total vehicle population increases by approximately 35,000. An estimated one-third of all downtown traffic on weekdays is due to vehicles searching for a parking spot. 

The new initiatives are part of BMW i, a BMW brand focused on developing sustainable premium mobility solutions. Uwe Dreher, BMWi Head of Global Marketing, presented during the 2012 Sustainable Brands conference on BMW’s decision to launch a sustainable sub brand, the development and marketing processes, and early results (Watch the video here).

BMW also created a venture capital company, called BMW i Ventures, to fund budding technology companies working to solve mobility challenges in the world's most densely populated cities. It has made strategic investments in several companies, including Coulomb Technologies and ParkAtMyHouse, an innovative online marketplace designed to connect home and business owners interested in earning money by renting their space to drivers in need of a convenient, safe and cost-effective place to park. The service has 20,000 unique locations and over 150,000 registered drivers. The first i Ventures investment was in MyCityWay, a set of location-aware apps for urban navigation that provide users with information on public transportation, parking availability and local entertainment in San Francisco and 70 other cities across the U.S. and around the world.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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