BMW i3 in Central LondonBMW will this week launch its DriveNow scheme in London, seeking to succeed where Mercedes-Benz failed. 

The pay-as-you-go car club has been running since 2011 and is Europe’s largest car-sharing scheme; in Germany alone, reports the FT, it has 360,000 customers. 

BMW’s London DriveNow scheme will be run in association with car rental firm Sixt, as the Munich firm broadens its global ambitions for the scheme. 

Crucially, it will take inspiration from London’s most famous transport rental solution, Boris bikes: the cars will offer one-way rental, without the need to return cars back to their original pickup location.

This ‘disposable’ setup, where cars are rented on a per-minute basis, is likely to help BMW succeed the challenges of London’s broad network where the Mercedes-Benz car2go scheme, which closed earlier in the year, did not. 

London leads for car clubs

London is already Europe’s market leader for such ‘round-trip’ car club schemes, says the FT; however, 15 per cent of car rental trips in Europe are on a one-way basis and it’s expected the disposable share will swell to 50 per cent by 2020. 

The convenience, plus the opportunity to drive a premium brand car such as a BMW i3 or MINI, are both likely to be key attractions here.

Just as importantly, car hire schemes will also help car manufacturers tackle declining interest in car ownership in major cities – analysts have told the FT that even a small 5 per cent growth in car sharing could lead to a halving of brand new car sales…