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by David Zalstein

BMW will offer customers short-term new-car rentals directly through dealerships under a new pilot program starting in New York next month in a bid to boost new-car sales.

US industry journal Automotive News reports the trial, managed by BMW Group Financial Services, will allow customers the opportunity to make reservations for cars online starting in August.

CEO of the New Jersey-based finance company Ed Robinson told Automotive News he believes ‘BMW on Demand’ will “fit the market niche between car sharing and rentals”.

The program, limited to 12 BMW dealerships in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, distinguishes itself from more common car-sharing programs by allowing the renting of vehicles for up to five or six days, or possibly more, rather than five or six hours.

Robinson said customers could also expect BMW on Demand vehicles to be clean, in good repair and fueled up. “We’ve taken all those worries away from the customer,” he said.

BMW M5

Expected to continue until the end of 2012, the program’s costs are yet to be disclosed. According to Automotive News, the BMW on Demand service already available in Germany offers rates ranging from the equivalent of about US$30 per hour ($29) for a BMW 1-Series coupe to US$85 ($82) per hour for high-end cars like the BMW M5 (pictured above).

While the German program offers customers the entire BMW line-up – and even some classic models and M variants – the US trial is expected to launch exclusively using the BMW 3-Series, with additional models possibly to follow.




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