Bavarian automaker adds ride-hailing service to its car-sharing app

BMW has updated its ReachNow app to offer both car-sharing and ride-hailing, although the latter is only available in Seattle right now.

In what's claimed to be an industry first, residents of Microsoft's home town can now hire a car or ask for a ride "from a professional driver" all within the same smartphone application.

With the new service, dubbed ReachNow Ride, users can hail a ride immediately, or schedule a driver to arrive any time between 20 minutes and seven days in advance.

BMW claims its use of professional drivers will "ensure a consistent, quality experience" for users. Unlike Uber and many of its competitors, ReachNow Ride will not have surge pricing for busy periods.

Via the app, riders can also specify their temperature and music preferences, as well as setup a "quiet time" ride where they are not disturbed.

It's not known when BMW plans to expand ReachNow Ride to other urban centres.

The existing ReachNow Drive "floating" car-sharing service, which doesn't require renters to return their hired vehicle to its original location, is currently only available in Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

Until June this year ReachNow operated widely in Brooklyn, New York City, but significantly scaled back its offering due to "high damage to vehicles and maintenance costs".

ReachNow shouldn't be confused with the similarly named DriveNow app. Both use BMW, Mini and BMW i cars, but ReachNow is a fully in-house venture operating the States, while DriveNow was a joint venture with car rental company Sixt and is focussed on Europe.