Car-Sharing: Finally, Options Big Enough for Families

BMW's ReachNow offers vehicles that fit up to five

Photo credit: ReachNow

Until last week, using a car-sharing service in Seattle meant a family needed to fit in a two-seat Smart Car — the only option in well-known car-sharing service Car2Go. It was a tough challenge for anyone who needed extra room or a backseat. As of Friday, April 8, however, that struggle's a thing of the past.

BMW has launched ReachNow, a car-sharing service with vehicles that have backseats and can fit parties of up to five. 

How it works

Download the free app and register (this typically takes less than two minutes). Using the app, find an available vehicle near you and reserve it for free up to 30 minutes. Head to the vehicle and open it using the app (the key's waiting inside). Get where you're going and drop the vehicle off anywhere in the Home Area (specific location details below). Like with Car2Go, ReachNow can be used for one-way trips. 

You can also "pause" your trip. Details on ReachNow's website but pretty much, you select the "Park & Come Back" option on the in-car screen. You're charged 30 cents per minute paused but you won't lose your reservation if say you need to pop into the grocery store or the dry cleaner's.

For a limited time, ReachNow is offering two deals: free registration (it's typically $39 for a lifetime membership) and a lower rate (41 cents per driving minute compared to the standard 49 cents). 

Photo credit: ReachNow

What's available

ReachNow's 370 vehicle fleet includes the BMW i3 (seats five with a fold-down rear seat); two-door and four-door MINI (both models seat four); and the BMW 328xi (features all-wheel drive and seats five).

"My personal favorite is the electric BMW i3," says ReachNow marketing director Dana Goldin. "It's an electric vehicle without a separation between the front and back seat, making it really easy to get into and out of with a child."

Goldin, who recently relocated to Seattle and lives in South Lake Union, took one of the fleet's four-door MINIs for a spin this weekend and brought her 16-month-old daughter along for the ride. A highlight of their trip to Seattle Center: She didn't have to pay for parking (it's free in metered areas and residential parking zones, much like Car2Go).

Everything else you need to know

  • The Home Area (aka where it's free to park a ReachNow vechile) includes downtown Seattle, runs north to N 105th St. & Northgate Way, south to S Lander St. and west to 15th Ave. W. ReachNow doesn't currently serve Magnolia or West Seattle, but should in coming months.

  • To register for membership, you'll need a valid U.S. drivers' license, be at least 21 years old and have a valid credit or debit card. ReachNow requires your driving record include "no major violations." Details on that available in the membership agreement.

  • Use the app to access the vehicle but keep an eye on your mail. A ReachNow access card will be sent to your mailing address following registration. The card is one way to open and lock any rented ReachNow vehicle but don't worry — the app works just as well.

  • No advanced notice is needed for longer trips of up to 96 hours and within a 200-minute radius of Seattle. Just be sure to return the vehicle to the Home Area.

  • Prices include insurance, fuel and parking. You'll be charged for any tolls. For longer trips, the program automatically caps at $50 for up to three hours, $80 for up to 12 hours and $110 for up to 24 hours. 

  • If you use a ReachNow vehicle in the next few weeks, look for a booster seat in the trunk of the BMW i3 model.


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