New green initiative could put you in a BMW 

click to enlarge Mayor Ed Lee and BMW representatives announced the car-share program in Civic Center Plaza on Monday. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The SF Examiner
  • Mayor Ed Lee and BMW representatives announced the car-share program in Civic Center Plaza on Monday.

BMW hopes to make driving and parking in The City less onerous by launching a car-sharing service for electric vehicles and a mobile parking system that lets people find, reserve and pay for parking on the go.

On Monday, the company’s new DriveNow program began deploying a fleet of 70 BMW ActiveE electric cars for hourly rental. The cars are parked at nine Bay Area garages, to which they ultimately must be returned. BMW of North America plans to expand its fleet as the program grows in popularity, BMW spokeswoman Stacy Morris said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the company’s ParkNow application and website will soon allow motorists to locate parking in commercial garages from home or on the go.

The company’s goal is to decrease traffic and reduce related emissions in San Francisco. BMW’s Ian Robertson said about one-third of all downtown traffic is caused by cars attempting to find a place to park.

During an average day in San Francisco, Robertson said, there are about 505,733 drivers looking for parking among 448,000 spaces. Reducing the amount of time they spend searching for parking downtown will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they emit, the company said.

“We need to make this more sustainable,” Robertson said. “And there’s no silver bullet — no one thing solves the problem.”

After registering online and picking up a DriveNow ID, customers can use the interactive map on the program’s website or app to find a vehicle.

“Car-sharing will certainly have an environmental impact on this city,” said Department of the Environment Director Melanie Nutter, who appeared at a news conference announcing the two programs alongside Robertson and Mayor Ed Lee.

The mayor said there are currently 14 ParkNow locations around the city, and more than 100 additional locations will be added in the next few weeks.

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Kayla Figard

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