BMW’s ReachNow suspends ride-hailing service temporarily in setback for Uber and Lyft rival

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The ReachNow Ride ride-hailing service, which debuted in Seattle in late 2016, has been temporarily suspended due to an issue with a third party vendor. The original ReachNow car-sharing service remains available. (ReachNow Photo)

ReachNow, the car-sharing and ride-hailing service that is part of a joint venture between BMW Group and Daimler AG, has temporarily suspended operations of ReachNow Ride, the ride-hailing component of its service that competes with Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies.

The original car-sharing component of the ReachNow service remains in operation, but in a notice to users, the company said it was forced to suspend ReachNow Ride after the third-party vendor that hires and trains its drivers informed ReachNow “that they could no longer support our business.”

“With the limited window of notice, there is nothing we can do to keep Ride operational at this time,” the company said in the update on its site. “However, our team is working as quickly (and creatively) as possible to get Ride back up and running soon.”

The vendor, Vancouver, B.C.-based Ecoservice, informed ReachNow that it is ceasing its U.S. operations, according to a ReachNow representative. GeekWire has contacted Ecoservice for more information about its decision.

ReachNow Ride was limited to Seattle. ReachNow also operates its car-sharing service in Portland. The company exited Brooklyn last year.

“When we made Ride available side-by-side with car sharing in our app last summer, we intentionally took important steps toward creating a better model for ride-hailing,” the update says. “We’re proud to support more than 100 drivers with a livable, hourly wage, access to healthcare benefits and remove the burden of using their own car or having basics like gas and maintenance eat into their bottom line.”

ReachNow Ride has been received favorably by drivers, and usage of the service has been growing, said Laura Gonia, ReachNow’s head of marketing. Representatives of the company met with ReachNow Ride drivers earlier today to address the situation. ReachNow is speaking with other vendors with the goal of restarting operations as soon as possible, although there’s no official timeline yet for that to happen.

“We’re hoping that we can get this back online soon and continue to innovate,” Gonia said.

The auto giants last year announced a new joint venture that brought together businesses including BMW-owned ReachNow and Daimler-owned car2go, along with others such as moovel and mytaxi. The joint venture was designed in part to help the automakers compete more aggressively against sharing economy companies such as Uber, Lyft and Lime, which are expanding their own tech-powered transportation-related offerings.

ReachNow started testing ReachNow Ride in Seattle in November 2016, before expanding the service across the city and ultimately creating a unified app that combines the car-sharing and ride-hailing components of its service, touting itself as the first company to do so.

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