Traditional vehicle ownership isn't going anywhere, but it must now compete with alternative methods of sourcing a set of wheels. At least one automaker appears to be changing its paperwork to suit those newfangled methods.
BMW announced today that it will roll out its new Car and Ride Sharing Lease program. Available for both BMW and Mini vehicles, this new setup allows lessees to more easily contribute to the sharing economy by participating in car- and ride-sharing ventures.
You generally aren't faulted for not reading every page of a lease agreement, but if you plan on letting strangers use your car when you aren't, it would be a wise idea to read that fine print. Many lease agreements, including BMW's traditional one, do not allow leased vehicles to be used in car-sharing schemes. This new lease obviously cuts through a bit of that red tape, although its specifics are still a bit murky.
One trouble with ride sharing, though -- think Uber or Lyft -- is mileage. Some prolific drivers can tack on tens of thousands of miles in less than a year, which is traditionally well beyond the limitations of a standard lease. It's unclear whether BMW will allow for more generous lease terms when ride sharing is involved, but I've asked BMW to comment and clarify this.
The lease will launch in three states this month: California, Washington and Oregon. It'll be especially important in the latter two, because those are the ones where BMW has its own car-sharing program up and running. ReachNow lets users choose from a variety of BMW and Mini vehicles for short- or long-term sharing. There are no dedicated drop-off spots, so as long as you're within the predefined "home" area, you can request or finish a loan anywhere a car can be legally parked.
While BMW is among the first to recognize that it needs to align its financial arm with its customers' whims, it likely won't be the last. Then again, there's already a real easy way to get around sharing limitations of leased vehicles. It's called buying.