BMW, Daimler Merging Mobility Services Divisions

Two titans of the German auto industry, BMW and Daimler, are teaming up to merge their respective mobility services business units, offering users a single source for sustainable urban mobility options such as car-sharing and electric vehicle charging.

The joint-venture concept will result in the expansion of digital business models at both companies, with BMW Group and Daimler AG combining and expand their existing on-demand mobility offerings.

Aside from car sharing and EV charging, the services will include ride hailing, parking and multimodality — connectivity between different mobility offerings, including booking and payment — services.

For example, ReachNow is a car-sharing service operated by BMW in Seattle, Portland and Brooklyn that uses a mobile app for car reservations and operates a fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles.

Meanwhile, Moovel’s on-demand ridesharing service, operated by Daimler, was recently piloted in Karlsruhe, Germany, with around 1,000 passengers participating. It also used a smartphone app during the three-day trial period.

The service was comprised of ten Mercedes-Benz V-Class sedans that could be flexibly booked for free, and the app gives user an overview of all available mobility options in their city, and makes it possible to compare travel times and prices.

Car sharing services will be provided through Car2Go and DriveNow, which together operate a total of 20,000 vehicles in 31 cities across the globe.

In a joint statement the companies noted the merger would promote the use of electric-based mobility options — for example, by offering electrified car sharing vehicles, as well as easy access to charging and parking options.

ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions offer more than 143,000 charging points worldwide and are combined with parking privileges in cities, while ParkNow and Parkmobile Group offer ticketless, cashless on-street parking services, as well as help with finding, reserving and paying for off-street parking in a garage.

The ride-hailing service will be supported by mytaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi and Beat. It will offer services such as mytaximatch, which makes ride-sharing possible.

“As pioneers in automotive engineering, we will not leave the task of shaping future urban mobility to others,” Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management for Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, wrote in a statement. “There will be more people than ever before without a car who will still want to be extremely mobile.”

The merger is part of Daimler’s plan to transition from an automobile manufacturer to a provider of mobility services, known as the Connectivity, Automated driving, Sharing & services and Electric mobility (CASE) strategy.

While Daimler and BMW clearly think they can accelerate innovation to a greater extent through this partnership, the companies will remain rivals for the affection — and wallets — of luxury vehicle consumers.

“This alliance will make it easier for our customers to discover the emission-free mobility of the future, Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW, said in a statement. “We remain competitors when it comes to the best premium vehicles. The planned merger of our mobility services will pool our resources and sends a strong signal to our new competitors.”

If the merger is approved, each company will hold a 50% stake in a joint-venture model comprised of both companies’ mobility services.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209.

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