ReachNow car-sharing service partners with Intel in Portland; ends free-floating model in Brooklyn

BMW’s ReachNow will offer two designated drop-off zones in Seattle next month. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

ReachNow today announced a new partnership with Intel to provide easy accessibility to its car-sharing service at the company’s four campuses in Hillsboro, Ore.

BMW-owned ReachNow has created dedicated parking spaces near major entrances at the tech giant’s major offices in the Portland area. The idea is to provide another transportation option to Intel’s 20,000 employees. It also marks another expansion of ReachNow’s coverage area beyond Portland city limits.

ReachNow already operates a free-floating car-sharing service to anyone in the Portland area, where it launched in September 2016 after first starting in Seattle earlier that year. Customers can reserve and unlock vehicles with their smartphone, drive around, and leave the car in any city parking spot within ReachNow’s service area.

The new partnership with Intel is the result of a six-month pilot program. It’s also the latest move by ReachNow to expand beyond its traditional free-floating model and target employees at companies.

“Portland was one of the first cities in America to embrace car sharing, but large suburban business campuses are often still relatively limited in mobility options,” ReachNow CEO Steve Banfield said in a statement. “Intel has shown a strong commitment to providing employees and others on their campuses with sustainable, alternative transportation options.”

ReachNow launched a Corporate Fleet at Seattle’s 8th and Olive office tower last year. (ReachNow Photo)

ReachNow launched something similar in Seattle last year with its first “corporate fleet” at the 8th and Olive office building, giving employees exclusive access to an on-demand fleet of vehicles. But it shut that program down months later, partly because the vehicles were required to be driven back to the building if an employee rented a car from the dedicated fleet and took a trip.

“The round-trip model didn’t make sense for them,” Banfield told GeekWire in June 2017.

ReachNow is providing Intel employees with free lifetime memberships ($15) and initial ride credit. It’s unclear how ReachNow ensures that vehicles are available in the Intel parking spots, but a company spokesperson said keeping cars available on campus hasn’t been a problem. It’s also unclear how or if Intel is subsidizing rides for its employees.

Companies are increasingly looking to provide alternative transportation options for employees. For example, Oregon Health Science University last month partnered with Scoop, a carpooling service that lets users carpool to work with colleagues and neighbors. Google-owned Waze, which launched its own carpooling service in Seattle in March, works with companies like Symantec, Intuit, Synopsys, and Google itself on transportation solutions for employees.

Ford-owned shuttle service Chariot launched in Seattle last year and targets companies who can set up and fund routes between employees’ homes, major transit hubs and the office.

ReachNow, which in March announced an agreement to merge with its main competitor Car2go, also this week said that it is ending its free-floating service in Brooklyn and will focus on providing dedicated fleet solutions at residential buildings. A company spokesperson said high vehicle damage and maintenance costs led to the decision to halt the free-floating service in Brooklyn. The change does not impact service in Portland or Seattle.

ReachNow has more than 80,000 members and 1,300 cars across Seattle, Portland and Brooklyn.