Ferries make ReachNow cars think they’re being stolen

Three ReachNow rental cars malfunctioned on Washington State Ferries over Memorial Day weekend, with a security function locking the cars and leaving them unable to drive off the ferries after they docked. Two of the cars had to be towed, causing ferry delays.

ReachNow, BMW’s car-rental startup, is trying to figure out what malfunctioned with several of its cars Saturday night, causing them to lock up and stall aboard Washington State Ferries.

As the company investigates, the ferry system is advising ReachNow users to temporarily keep the cars off the boats.

Three ReachNow cars got stuck aboard ferries over the weekend, unable to drive off after they’d reached their docks. Tow trucks were called. Ferries were delayed.

A security feature on the rental cars sensed that the cars were moving — because the ferries were moving — but the cars’ engines were turned off and the doors were locked. Thinking the cars were being stolen or towed, the security feature activated and the cars went into a self-locking mode, leaving them immobile, ReachNow said.

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All three cars stalled after 10 p.m. on Saturday night, Ian Sterling, a Washington State Ferries spokesman, said.

Cars stalled at the Bainbridge Island dock, Colman Dock in downtown Seattle and at Mukilteo.

The Mukilteo and Bainbridge cars were towed off the ferries, Sterling said, while the downtown Seattle car was eventually able to…

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