BMW's mobile parking and transit product provider Parkmobile started out in 2008 as an on-street parking payment service, and it has evolved to enable consumers to find, reserve, and pay for parking through a single app in more than 2,000 locations. It also offers a fleet product that provides a system for companies to manage parking costs through its app.

“We have a fleet solution: When the drivers pay for parking, it all hits the same account, and you can manage and track all that,” said Jon Ziglar, Parkmobile’s CEO, adding that fleet drivers can add parking time without having to go out to the parking spot to add time for that day’s parking.

“We save fleets a lot in the area of citations and also give the owners and managers of the fleets control over their parking costs and possible abuse of a corporate card of petty cash to pay for parking. We have some very large fleet customers and a ton of small local ones. They don’t want to deal with reimbursing drivers for parking," said Ziglar.

Photo courtesy of BMW.

Photo courtesy of BMW.

In May 2017, Parkmobile took the next step toward making its customers consider it “the Uber of parking.” It announced its first OEM product, an automated on-street and off-street reservations parking system for the BMW luxury line of cars. BMW drivers can initiate and pay for this option across the Parkmobile network. It will use the vehicle’s navigation and GPS system to prompt BMW drivers to begin a parking session through the dashboard screen without the need to pay a meter or initiate a session via mobile app.

“With BMW, they said, ‘It’s great to have an app, but wouldn’t it be great if when I get in my car and I tell my navigation system where I want to go, I can see all the parking garages around there? Through the navigation system in my car, I can actually reserve a space in that garage, and my car itself rather than the phone would navigate me to that garage, and I could make sure I’d have a spot waiting.’ So we integrated reservations parking into the BMW last year,” Ziglar said.

Now the BMW in-vehicle navigation system, teaming with Parkmobile, can reserve parking at parking garages. When a driver pulls up to the parking garage, the driver can pull his or her phone out and using the Parkmobile companion app, scan a barcode at the parking gate, and the gate will open even if the garage is sold out, allowing the driver to park.

But BMW wanted even more. The company said to Parkmobile that it would like the product to start a parking session on its own for regular metered spots on the street, so the driver would not have to pull his or her phone out to use the app for on-street parking.

Ziglar explained: “You pull up your car into any spot where there’s a meter to pay, if it’s in the Parkmobile network, the BMW will know where it is, and the navigation system screen on the car will say, ‘Do you want to start a parking session, how much time do you need?’ You push on that and say ‘I want to buy an hour.’ Now instead of me having to get out and pay a meter, the car will start a parking session automatically just by me saying I want to buy an hour. We have enabled the car itself to initiate and terminate a paid parking session on the street in any of 250-and-growing cities.”

How does the system work? Parkmobile works with municipalities and parking lot operators, integrating to all of the different parking gate equipment. For on-street parking, the company contracts with cities directly and integrates its system with whichever enforcement device that particular municipality uses.

Looking to the future, Parkmobile is working with additional OEMs, and Ziglar said that using Parkmobile products, every car will soon be able to use its navigation system to reserve and pay for parking on the street on its own. “So the consumer is not going to need to use an app, and the car can take care of something that is normally a hassle all by itself. The BMW one is incredible, because it creates a frictionless parking experience, taking away the annoyance and hassle that comes with parking.” 

Parkmobile by the Numbers

  • 7.3 million people are already using Parkmobile on their Android or iPhone. 
  • On a single day in October, people used Parkmobile 173,000 times around the U.S.
  • Parkmobile’s services, which include on-street parking, off-street parking, airport and event reservations, and municipal parking permit products, are available in more than 2,000 locations, including 39 of the top 100 cities in the U.S. Parkmobile serves more than 250 cities, 150 events and venues, and 20 airports with on-demand, permit, and reservations parking products.