How BMW cracked the streets of San Francisco

By Gabe Nelson : autonews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — A prime downtown parking spot here costs $3.50 an hour.

Stay for 12 hours a day, and it adds up to $250 a week, or $13,000 a year.

Most car companies don’t worry much about the cost of parking, but in a garage under a San Francisco overpass, a group of BMW employees is figuring out how to factor those costs into a new business model. Three years ago, the company chose San Francisco for the U.S. debut of DriveNow, a car-sharing program that presages a future in which car companies won’t just sell cars — they’ll sell rides, one trip at a time…

Selling rides is sharing?

But the rollout in San Francisco has not gone as smoothly as BMW hoped…

In most cities where they operate, Drive-Now and archrival Daimler’sCar2Go users can pick up a car from the curb, drive across the city and park at any legal street spot. They can do this because those cities will sell DriveNow and Car2Go a “superpermit” — a master parking pass that serves as payment for parking meters and permission to ignore time limits.

San Francisco still has not granted a superpermit, after years of lobbying… (more)

It appears that BMW can only operate successfully with “superpermits” that allow their drivers to park in any neighborhood without or fear of getting a ticket. We all had that deal until 2012 when the SFMTA implemented their anti-car campaign by eliminating parking and traffic lanes.

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