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BMW i Ventures and Penske invest in flexible car ownership app

Investors including BMW i Ventures and Penske Automotive Group have participated in a funding round for the flexible car ownership mobile app, Fair, which attracted nearly $1 billion in offers from investors.

Fair allows customers to get approved for a monthly payment for a car on their phone by scanning their driver’s licence and linking a bank account. Cars can also be returned with just five days’ notice, as Fair owns the vehicle on the customer’s behalf.

The company is led by entrepreneur Scott Painter, who was previously CEO of Nasdaq-listed TrueCar, and Georg Bauer, former head of financial services at Tesla and BMW.

Painter said the Fair model relied on dealers as ongoing operational partners, which was why it made sense as an investment for Penske. He said Penske’s physical infrastructure would serve as a foundation to enable Fair’s flexible model.

“Penske is committed to be on the leading edge of technology and our investment with Fair reflects that commitment,” said Penske president, Robert Kurnick.

BMW i Ventures is the carmaker’s €500m ($588m) venture capital fund which invests in start-ups. Its managing director, Ulrich Quay, said: “The company allows users to access vehicles without a fixed term. This appeals in particular to younger generations who want more flexible usage models.”

Fair plans to grow its presence from Los Angeles to the rest of California by the end of 2017, and in other select markets nationwide during 2018.

“In addition to Fair’s obvious benefit for customers, we believe our app will be a critical tool for dealers handling the rising flow of high-quality lease returns we expect over the next several years,” said Bauer.