Abrupt Shutdown Of ReachNow Left BMWs In Streets Of Seattle And Portland

Seattle-based car-sharing and ride-hailing startup ReachNow is the latest casualty of the BMW and Daimler merger of mobility services. Back in July, ReachNow, which has been in operation for a few years now, shutdown with such short notice, that employees and customers were made aware via an email mere hours before operations ceased. Closing things down was also carried without an apparent plan, and a skeleton crew of remaining employees were left scrambling to deal with roughly 1,000 BMWs left in the streets of Seattle and Portland.

Earlier this year, after the merger between BMW and Daimler mobility ventures was announced, ReachNow was tasked with pivoting from a ride-hailing service, like Uber or Lyft, and a floating rental car service, to offering multi-modal transit options in the their app so users could get to where they were going via a variety of methods. Despite customer numbers expanding every year of operation, it is said that ReachNow’s ride-hailing service, called Ride, was essentially unused, with some drivers idling for entire shifts with no requests.

The axing of ReachNow from BMW and Daimler’s joint venture comes after Moovel, a similar service, was selected as the focus solution in the market. As mobility and transportation shift to embrace a new era, management at leading automakers the world over are seeking to redefine their business models so they can remain relevant in a world where people may no longer own a personal vehicle. In addition to collaboration on autonomous driving technology, component and platform sharing, and electric motivation sources, the consolidation of mobility and ride-sharing services is yet another step in the market restructuring things for the future.

It’s not clear what lead to ReachNow shutting down with essentially no warning, but it is obvious that things were handled poorly after the mobility startup was essentially left to die on the vine. According to a recent report by Geekwire, the 75 employees at the company were notified they were losing their jobs just hours before operations ceased altogether. At the same time, customers, some of whom were in active ReachNow rental cars, received an email notice directing them to end their journeys in coverage areas so the cars could be subsequently collected.

ReachNow’s market was the Pacific Northwest, with focus cities of Seattle and Portland. Ride-sharing service was also available in Brooklyn for a short period of time, but this came to an end in May 2018. After things were shut down, up to 1,000 BMW F30 3 Series and i3 PHEVs were parked on the streets of the two cities, with no logistical plan involved for what to do with them. According to the article referenced above, a few remaining employees were tasked with finding parking lots where the vehicles could be temporarily stored. It sounds like the majority of the fleet was in Seattle, with 750 vehicles there alone.

 

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It is being reported that over 90% of the BMWs were removed from the streets within two weeks of closure. As far as what will happen next, things remain unclear. The founder of ReachNow left the company months ago, in the midst of the BMW-Daimler merger, and has since called the subsequent debacle a, “missed opportunity.” More recently, the CEO of Moovel, the successor of ReachNow, also stepped down.

The fate of the 1,000 BMWs up in the Pacific Northwest is also up in the air, but it is expected that the entire fleet will be auctioned.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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