Wouldn't it be great if you could just hop into the nearest car and drive it wherever you liked, without worrying about getting arrested? Well, in Munich, you can.
BMW and mobility services provider Sixt AG have just announced a new initiative called DriveNow, in which they are making around 300 Mini Coopers and BMW 1-Series models available for anyone to share.
But they have done a few things to help ensure you don't confuse the word 'share' with 'steal'. To begin with, you need to register with the program. This involves visiting a Sixt station, handing them €29, and showing them your drivers license. There is a chip on that license, which will give you access to their vehicles.
Claiming your carThen all you need to do is walk outside and find yourself a vehicle. This shouldn't be too difficult, because nobody is supposed to take their vehicle outside the 30 square miles of Munich's Mittlerer Ring (what happens if you do is not clear, but since everything is electronic, they no doubt have the ability to switch off your car). There should be a vehicle waiting for you within about a quarter of a mile. All you need to do is to get on your smartphone, or computer, or use your eyes to locate one. Then use the chip on your license to claim it, get in, and start driving. You don't even need a key!
As you enjoy your ride, DriveNow charges you 29 cents (about $0.40) a minute to use their car, and 10 cents for each minute that you have it, but aren't driving it. Which is pretty reasonable, considering you don't have to pay for gas (which is currently about $5.50 a gallon in Munich).
When you're done, find a parking spot (and DriveNow have plenty of free ones reserved in convenient locations, if you can't find another one), and leave it there for the next person.
After Munich, the plan is to set up the same kind of service - with 500 cars - in Berlin. And then it's the world. Literally. DriveNow hope to have one million customers globally by 2020.
Here's their promotional video: