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BMW launches operations at Center of Urban Mobility Competence; boosting electromobility through EV sharing

BMW Group has officially launched operations at its Center of Urban Mobility Competence, which it established earlier this year. Its experts are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas.

BMW established the Competence Center to help bring the goal of creating a sustainable model for urban mobility, reducing traffic volumes and improving the quality of life in cities within reach, through partnerships with cities themselves. At the same time, BMW also announced that 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.

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BMW i3 at DriveNow Berlin. Click to enlarge.

DriveNow has added more than 470,000 customers around the world over the last four years, including 430,000 in Germany (120,000 in Berlin). Since 2013, DriveNow has been running 60 all-electric BMW ActiveE cars in Munich and Berlin as part of the WiMobil and ePlan research projects. They have performed well in day-to-day use and will now be replaced by 40 BMW i3 cars in Berlin, 30 in Hamburg and 30 in Munich.

For the BMW Group, electric car sharing has an important role to play in driving forward electric mobility as a whole in Germany. Vehicles involved in electric car sharing schemes boost the use of charging points in cities—and on a more predictable basis. This rapidly makes electric mobility visible and more easily accessible.

Electric mobility and car sharing represent two important building blocks for the BMW Group when it comes to working with cities to develop revolutionary mobility concepts.

A significant change has taken place within the BMW Group. In line with our strategic goals, we are setting out to establish ourselves as the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide. We are witnessing the changes our customers and society as a whole are making and we are taking them on board. Our aim is to work towards developing a higher quality of life in cities with ample space for urban living. Set up at the start of this year, the Urban Mobility Competence Centre has since provided us with a team of experts who are working with cities and the associated stakeholders to develop and implement new concepts for future urban mobility.

In the BMW Group’s view, it is possible to further improve mobility for people living in urban areas. It is not a contradiction in terms to improve mobility and at the same time ensure cities offer a high quality of life for the people who live there.

—Dr. Bernhard Blättel, Vice President Mobility Services at BMW AG

Parking. The quality of life in increasingly densely populated cities can be improved significantly by putting public spaces to different use. One way this can be achieved this is by freeing up a large portion of the parking areas currently required. To make this possible, mobility concepts and frameworks need to be in place which can spark people’s enthusiasm for urban mobility beyond their own car, BMW said.

Local public transport continues to provide the backbone of mobility services in urban areas. Complementing local public transport with car sharing schemes and other modes of transport, and creating seamless intermodal connections, allows people to use all the routes through a city. This results in a significant reduction in the volume of cars looking for parking spaces and in the number of parking spaces required, as well as improvements in air quality and noise emissions.

The recently published main points of the German federal government’s car sharing legislation fundamentally address this approach. The legislation enables cities to offer parking privileges for car sharers over private car users in the public interest. On the assumption that these kinds of incentives apply in equal measure for users of station-based and non-station-based car sharing, cities would be able to make substantial progress when it comes to extending the reach of sustainable mobility.

The same applies to Germany’s electric mobility legislation, which, among other things, gives cities the option of designating parking areas exclusively for electric vehicles. This can also help local authorities meet their aims when it comes to limiting vehicle emissions. Indeed, authorities can combine such an approach with a well-thought-through strategy for sustainable urban development to set the tone and embark on a course towards creating an environment that provides a higher quality of life.

The BMW Group’s strategic roadmap runs up to 2020 and sets out the aim to be the leading supplier of premium products and premium services for personal mobility worldwide. Alongside DriveNow, this involves other services such as ParkNow and ChargeNow. The substantial pressure on parking in central areas of cities around the world gives rise to considerable traffic caused by people looking for parking spaces—and with it unnecessary emissions. For drivers, this is often the most unpleasant part of a journey. ParkNow serves as an integrated platform on which to manage parking using both public areas and private spaces.

The benefits for users are clear. But there are also advantages when it comes to parking space monitoring in cities if parking tickets can be paid for online and the number of ticket machines reduced. Depending on parking demand, it is also possible to use real-time information in cars to manage traffic by showing drivers the likelihood, based on a learning algorithm, of a space being available on a given street. If there are no parking spaces available in a particular area, this allows traffic caused by people looking for spaces there to be avoided from the outset. This idea can be extrapolated to provide another parking management option—i.e. pegging parking prices to current demand.

Intermodal guidance. The intermodal route guidance function integrated into the navigation system of the BMW i3 moves things forward another step. When route guidance is activated, this function shows not only the most efficient route to the desired destination by car, but also an intermodal connection, should this provide the most efficient solution.

For example, a switch onto local public transport—using precise timetable data—or a rental bike can be integrated into the route guidance process. The intermodal route guidance function, which will be introduced gradually across all the BMW Group’s vehicles, allows additional traffic to be avoided and the driver to be pointed actively in the direction of alternative local public transport options.

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