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BMW ReachNow car-sharing service shuts down in Seattle and Portland following joint venture deal

BMW’s car-sharing service abruptly ceased operation Wednesday, ending a mobility program that included 1,000 free-floating vehicles used by more than 100,000 members across Seattle and Portland. A spokesperson confirmed that ReachNow offices in those two cities will close in the next few months. ReachNow has 75 employees and contractors that will be impacted.

The decision was made in light of a joint venture created earlier this year by Daimler and BMW designed in part to help the automakers compete more aggressively with sharing economy companies such as Uber, Lyft and Lime. The deal brought together a variety of mobility businesses, including ReachNow, car2go, moovel, and mytaxi.

As part of the YOUR NOW joint venture, ReachNow combined with moovel as part of a rebranded “REACH NOW” arm, one of five separate entities.

Daimler and BMW executives decided last month to shutter the existing ReachNow car-sharing service as part of a “realignment.” The joint venture will focus its car-sharing efforts around SHARE NOW, which brought together car2go and DriveNow. The REACH NOW entity will continue to exist to improve the accessibility of public transit.

ReachNow directed members to sign up for car2go, which operates in Seattle and Portland. It is offering sign-up fee refunds for members who signed up after June 1. ReachNow launched its free-floating car-share service in Seattle in 2016 and then expanded to Portland. The company also operated in Brooklyn but later shut down.

The service allowed people to unlock vehicles with their smartphone, drive to a destination, and leave the car in any city-operated parking spot. Rates were $0.49 per minute of driving and $0.10 per minute of parking. There were also flat rates for 1-hour ($20), 3-hour ($50), 1-day ($80), or longer sessions such as weekend getaways. car2go has similar rates.

ReachNow also operated an airport parking lot in Seattle and Portland, in addition to fleets for companies and apartment complexes, including OHSU and West Edge. Those fleets will wind down in the coming months.

ReachNow had a ride-hailing component of its service called ReachNow Ride that competed with Uber and Lyft. It suspended operations of ReachNow Ride this past May. ReachNow touted itself as the first company to combine car-sharing and ride-hailing components into a unified app.

BMW previously tested an electric car-sharing program called DriveNow in San Francisco, but shut it down in 2015 due to city regulations. BMW operates DriveNow services in Europe.

Former ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield stepped down in January, following the joint venture announcement. “End of a great team and a missed opportunity to foster mobility as a service (MaaS) innovation in the new joint venture,” Banfield wrote in a LinkedIn post. “I’m so proud of everything the ReachNow team accomplished since launch in April 2016. I look forward to seeing the amazing products and services they will build in their future ventures.”

Smartphone-powered mobility services are changing the way people move around cities. Lime, the fast-growing mobility startup valued at more than $1 billion, recently launched its LimePod car-sharing service in Seattle.

Other car-sharing services in Seattle include Zipcar and Getaround, a startup that lets people rent personal vehicles.

Peace out, ReachNow.

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