Rather than having a car sit for hours on the curb, BMW AG’s Mini brand plans to help its customers turn idle downtime into cash.
Mini plans soon to make its new cars available with devices that enable owners to rent out their vehicles, like Airbnb Inc. does with spare rooms and empty apartments. The system includes features that accept payment and track the vehicle to make sure the renter doesn’t go for a one-way joyride.
“It’s going to be kind of like Airbnb on wheels,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW executive who oversees Mini, said in an interview at the Beijing motor show. “There’ll be those who say, ‘Never, ever will I lend my car to strangers.’ Then there’ll be others who’ll love the idea of halving their leasing rate.”
If the test goes well, BMW plans to expand the service to its namesake luxury-car brand, Schwarzenbauer said, adding that the technology is easy to install and will be available at “no significant cost” to the owner.