Mini Sharing
(Mini Spain)
  • BMW has promised to launch "Mini Sharing" in South Africa this year, starting in Sandton and then expanding to "a number of quintessentially urban locations" elsewhere.
  • The scheme will allow users to book and unlock a mini with a smartphone app.
  • Mini South Africa won't give us any more details. But a pathfinder project in Spain, and a car-sharing collaboration between BMW and Daimler, gives us some idea of what to expect.
  • If South Africa follows the European model, Mini owners could be paying around R1,600 for the necessary hardware, and drivers will then pay around R5 per km for use, or possibly R4.50 per minute.
  • Go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage for more stories.

"Mini Sharing" – a system that allows users to rent Mini cars on a per-kilometre basis using a smartphone app – will be available in Sandton, Johannesburg, by "third quarter of 2020", Mini's parent company the BMW Group says.

And plans are already in the works to roll out the service to "a number of quintessentially urban locations within South Africa", none of which it will yet name.

Nor will Mini SA say exactly when it plans to launch the service, or provide any other details. Such information will be available only as the unspecified launch date approaches, the company says.

But a pathfinder project for Mini in Spain, and a car-sharing collaboration between BMW and Daimler, gives us some idea of what to expect.

Mini Sharing first launched in Madrid in 2018, and was rolled out in Barcelona in mid-2019. It invited Mini owners to pay €99 (around R1,600 at current exchange rates) for the installation of necessary hardware, including a system for keyless entry using only an iPhone or Android app.

Once their cars are suitably equipped, Mini owners can then invite up to 10 people to share the vehicle, either accepting their bookings as they come or creating a VIP list of people who can use it any time.

Those sharing drivers can be "invited" to help share the cost, at a rate initially set at €0.30 (around R5) per kilometre.

The Spanish app is specifically aimed at letting owners share a car with people they know. But the BMW Group is also involved in the ShareNow car-sharing service, which is geared towards more traditional car rentals to strangers.

ShareNow is a joint venture created when BMW's DriveNow merged with Daimler AG's CarGo as part of what the companies described as the creation of "a new global player providing sustainable urban mobility for customers". 

ShareNow allows registered users to book cars in a number of European cities at a rate, for a Mini, of €0.28 per minute, the equivalent of around R4.50 per minute. That rate includes a certain mileage, after which a "long distance fee of €0.39 (around R6.30) per kilometre kicks in. 

Like Mini Sharing, the ShareNow service uses a smartphone app to unlock the rented car and handle all paperwork.

ShareNow is currently available in North America, but will be shuttering its operations on that continent, as well as in Brussels, London, and Florence, on 29 February.

Mini South Africa said the Sandton pilot would be available to a select group of users initially. It would not say how those who may be interested could get to join that group.

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