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Family, friends and colleagues will soon be able to open and start one another’s MINI vehicle with their smartphone as part of a new vehicle sharing scheme in Madrid.

As part of a pilot project in the Spanish capital, the MINI sharing program allows the vehicle owner to share their MINI with up to ten people of their choosing, with the vehicle availability highlighted in the app’s inbuilt calendar function. The guest drivers can use the app to make a reservation request from their smartphone with just a few taps.

The peer-to-peer sharing trial is also designed for a fleet of up to 500 vehicles, making it a practical solution for vehicle sharing within a business context as well.

“MINI drivers are always ahead of their time, just like their groundbreaking and modern vehicles,” MINI’s Senior Vice President Sebastian Mackensen said.

“With MINI Sharing, we enable our customers in Spain to participate in the sharing economy. This new technology fits perfectly with our desirable cars and our innovative customer demographic.”

After the owner has granted their consent, the location of the vehicle and pedestrian directions are displayed on their phone. Upon arrival at the vehicle, the smartphone on which the MINI Sharing App is installed becomes the car key.

Meanwhile, a Bluetooth connection between the smartphone and the MINI makes it possible to open the vehicle doors and start the engine by pressing the start/stop toggle switch.

Another important consideration that MINI has considered is how travel data can be used to accommodate a fair expenses system for those that use the car. Under the proposed plan, guest drivers are billed at a certain flat rate and are then able to direct their funds directly back to the owner – a significant step in helping to keep travel journeys transparent and fair.

“The MINI Sharing App generates a report with the travel data required for billing, and the guest driver is presented with the opportunity to transfer a payment to the MINI owner via PayPal,” the company said in a statement.

“The cost calculation for the MINI Sharing App is based on a flat rate of € 0.30 ($0.54) per kilometre driven.”

Insurance cover for each vehicle can also be extended easily, with a lump sum for each additional guest driver participating in the MINI Sharing trial.

There is no word yet on whether this trial will eventually extend to the American or Australasian market, but the concept certainly has enough merit that may see other major manufacturers hoping to replicate MINI’s efforts.