Free­ing up park­ing lots

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

THE big­gest prob­lem tra­di­tional busi­nesses have with the Face­book gen­er­a­tion is how they want to share ev­ery­thing — even their cars.

All the re­search point to a near fu­ture where young buy­ers just roll their eyes at the idea of sit­ting in cars in peak hour traf­fic, or worse, own­ing a car that just sits there 23 out of 24 hours, cost­ing money at home and in the park­ing lot.

Yet they will all need to get to work some­how.

All the big car brands, as well as a few small ones, are far ad­vanced in re­search about sup­ply­ing the needs of the next trans­port users.

BMW’s fo­cus is on elec­tric cars, not hy­dro­gen as is the case with Toy­ota, Honda and Hyundai, (see page 6) and they plan to free up park­ing ar­eas by hav­ing their cars work all day, in­stead of just stand­ing there.

The com­pany has been get­ting the public used to elec­tric cars for four years through its DriveNow pro­gramme. The group al­ready has more than 470 000 cus­tomers around the world since 2011, in­clud­ing 430 000 in Ger­many as part of its DriveNow car shar­ing scheme, us­ing 60 all-elec­tric BMW Ac­tiveE cars in Mu­nich and Ber­lin.

Ear­lier this year, they took the next step by set­ting up a Cen­tre of Ur­ban Mo­bil­ity Com­pe­tence. There ex­perts aim to help cre­ate a sus­tain­able model for ur­ban mo­bil­ity, re­duce traf­fic vol­umes and im­prove the qual­ity of life in cities. The cen­tre has now added 100 all-elec­tric BMW i3 elec­tric cars to the DriveNow pro­gramme in Ber­lin, Ham­burg and Mu­nich.

In Lon­don the BMW i3 was al­ready added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Ger­many and Europe will soon fol­low suit as part of the WiMo­bil and ePlan re­search projects.

“Our cus­tomers have en­joyed us­ing the BMW Ac­tiveE cars as much as the con­ven­tional ve­hi­cles in our fleet,” says Nico Gabriel, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of DriveNow. He said elec­tric mo­bil­ity and car shar­ing rep­re­sent two im­por­tant build­ing blocks for the BMW Group when it comes to work­ing with cities to de­velop rev­o­lu­tion­ary mo­bil­ity con­cepts.

“The qual­ity of life in our in­creas­ingly densely pop­u­lated cities can be im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly by putting public spa­ces to dif­fer­ent use. One way we can achieve this is by free­ing up a large por­tion of the park­ing ar­eas cur­rently re­quired. To make this pos­si­ble, mo­bil­ity con­cepts and frame­works need to be in place which can spark peo­ple’s en­thu­si­asm for ur­ban mo­bil­ity be­yond their own car …” Gabriel said in a state­ment.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

One of 70 elec­tric BMW Ac­tiveE sedans that was put into BMW’s DriveNow car-shar­ing ser­vice in San Fran­cis­coin 2012.

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