In a statement release today, BMW said it will begin test autonomous vehicles in Munich next year as it seeks to keep up with ride-hailing firms like Uber and Lyft.
“Uber and Lyft do not operate their own fleets of cars. Owning the fleet means you can make offers that Lyft and others are unable to provide. For example providing car sharing for a specific community only,” BMW’s chief executive Harald Krueger
BMW will have about 40 vehicles with self-driving functions in Munich’s inner city and then expand the project to other cities.
“There is a trained test driver behind the wheel of every car,” Klaus Buettner, BMW’s vice president in charge of Autonomous Driving said.
Many car companies are looking to launch their self-driving vehicles as part of car-sharing services in the next few years in the belief that consumer-ready autonomous cars are still a ways off. Creating self-driving vehicles for such services should offer automakers new revenue streams via both car sales and partnerships with service providers where income can be shared.
BMW plans to use not just its expertise making premium vehicles, but also its ability to manufacture, own and manage fleets of premium vehicles.