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Mini launches new service to help owners rent out their cars

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Andrew Winning/Reuters/File

(Read caption) British long jumper J.J. Jegede jumps over three Mini cars in London in 2011. BMW's Mini division will not only gladly sell you a new car, it will also soon help you rent it out to other people.

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BMW's Mini division will not only gladly sell you a new car, it will also soon help you rent it out to other people.

As part of BMW's ever-expanding ride and car-sharing initiative, Mini owners will be able to opt in to a BMW-run network that would make their cars available to registered members. Mini owners will soon be offered a device that allows users to pay for access to their cars. Similar devices are used for Car2Go and other car-sharing services.

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The system will also track Minis to ensure that they are returned to the owner's parking spot.

It is not clear if it will cost anything for owners to have the system installed. 

"It's going to be kind of like Airbnb on wheels," Mini chief Peter Schwarzenbrauer told Bloomberg.

Schwarzenbrauer indicated that the service will allow some owners to offset the cost of buying or leasing a vehicle if they so choose. 

Mini hasn't said just where it plans to begin offering the service, though Schwarzenbrauer made the announcement on the sidelines of the Beijing Auto Show.

BMW's new ReachNow car-sharing service, which uses both BMW and Mini cars owned by the carmaker itself, is arguably the most comprehensive on the market and it recently launched in Seattle. The automaker has indicated that it plans to extend ReachNow to close to a dozen other American cities.