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DriveNow car-sharing service to quit Brussels next month
BMW's car-sharing service DriveNow will cease trading in Brussels on 29 February, after "failing to convince enough people" to use it, management have announced.
DriveNow will quit Brussels, London and Florence on the same date. The company acknowledged the "harsh reality" of the market and said its decision to close was "despite our efforts and investments over the past three years".
The news comes almost a year after another car-sharing provider, Zipcar, was set to shut down - before being taken over by rival Poppy. Competitor Ubeeqo has also ceased activities in the Belgian capital, while electric car-sharing scheme Zen Car is now focusing its efforts on corporate rentals, rather than to individuals.
Instead of having fixed stations, DriveNow offered a "free-floating" rental service, meaning users could leave their car in any regular parking space and find their nearest vehicle using a mobile phone app.
Frédéric Van Malleghem, director of Cambio, the city's longest-running car-sharing scheme, said there was nothing particularly different about the Brussels market that had made trading difficult. "They are leaving the least profitable markets to invest elsewhere," he said.
However he added: "There is undoubtedly a surplus of supply" - pointing to the availability of shared scooters and electric bikes as well.
According to Sylvain Niset, chief executive of Poppy, Belgium's company-car culture has made things difficult. "Changing people's habits is more difficult than elsewhere," he says. "Many people own a car through their company - and that ultimately costs them nothing. So it's going to take time."