Your New BMW: Available By the Hour?

July 23rd, 2012

2012 BMW 328i Convertible

Luxury car dealers should rent cars.

Imagine the new revenue source for dealers if they had a fleet of popular vehicles available to rent by the hour, day or week. I’ve been thinking about this for the last two weeks or so as I’ve planned a 15th wedding anniversary celebration. Guys like me may not want to parade our wives around town in our ’94 Tercels on an anniversary night. Maybe the dumpy car is fine on a normal everyday trip to the Hobby Lobby, but when visiting a fancy restaurant on a special night, there’s a need for something more.

Some cities have exotic rentals, but that may be overkill on the budget. Wouldn’t it be great if guys like us could call up the local BMW or Porsche dealer and request a nice new 3 Series or Boxster to shuttle our brides for the evening?

At some BMW dealers, such a program is in the works.

BMW Financial Services will kick off BMW On Demand USA next month, which will allow people to easily rent a BMW by the hour, day or week from a dealership.

The first location, BMW of Manhattan, will have 100 328i sedans in the fleet, with other models to come in the future. Assuming the program succeeds in New York, it will spread to dealers throughout the country. It’s a brilliant business model in these changing times, because it caters to regular guys celebrating special occasions, people who want extended test drives before buying and the crowd of city dwellers who don’t own cars but need them occasionally. Plus, renting from a dealer will give people access to a pool cars, and a level of service, not available through traditional rental companies.

No other luxury automaker that I’m aware of offers any kind of rental program, which puts BMW at the forefront of a potentially lucrative business. If it were available in my city this week, I know I’d be pulling up to the valet in a shiny new luxury car. Instead, I might have to make do with the Tercel and a quiet evening in the Applebee’s bar.

Would you rent a luxury car from a dealership if such a program were available?

-tgriffith

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