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.
San Francisco seemed the obvious place to start, Richard Steinberg, the CEO of DriveNow USA, said in an interview. It checked all the boxes: scarce parking, high rates of mass-transit usage, tech-savvy population. It was the hometown of “sharing economy” startups such as Uber, Lyft, RelayRides and Getaround.