More signs that the era of the personal automobile may be slowly coming to an end: BMW is launching an interesting new car-sharing system in Munich next month, with plans to bring it worldwide.
Called DriveNow, the system will use about 300 cars—both Mini Coopers and BMW 1-Series models. After registering for the system for a one-time payment of €29 (about $41 at the moment), you can look up cars in your area, reserve a free one, unlock it electronically, drive it anywhere within the service boundaries, and drop it off wherever it's convenient. For each ride you simply pay 29 cents per minute, up to €14.90 (about $21) per hour (you pay no extra for gas).
It seems like an especially simple system, and the price is reasonable. At $21 per hour, it would be cheaper than a cab—even cheaper than parking in some cities. The fact that every account is linked to a driver's license will presumably deter theft and vandalism. Hopefully 300 cars will be enough to give Müncheners confidence that one will be available when they need it.
Here are a few videos demonstrating how the system works.