We’re not sure what it means when two ultra-competitive car companies decide to cooperate on a joint venture, but we’re about to find out. BMW and Daimler have agreed to a joint venture that combines most of their urban mobility services. This is a remarkable turn of events, especially given that urban mobility has been one of the BMW Group’s high priorities for the past few years.

Subject to government regulators in the countries involved, BMW and Daimler will merge and expand their on-demand mobility services in car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, electric-vehicle charging, and multimodality. [Editor’s note: multi-what?!] Each partner will have a 50% share of the new mobility-services unit, but will remain fierce competitors in pretty much all other automotive production and sales areas.

The stated aim of this move is “to become a leading provider of innovative mobility services,” but it’s also possible that the merging of those mobility services might prove useful in competing against larger, more established car-sharing and ride-hailing services, as well as giving BMW and Daimler more leverage in dealing with the cities in which they would like to compete. “The BMW Group is shaping future mobility and striking out in new directions to do so. Our Strategy Number One Next provides the BMW Group with a road map to a digital and emissions-free future,” said Harald Krüger, chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management. He continued, “Combining our mobility services as planned will create a unique digital ecosystem. This alliance will make it easier for our customers to discover the emissions-free mobility of the future. 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.”

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, added, “As pioneers in automotive engineering, we will not leave the task of shaping future urban mobility to others. There will be more people than ever before without a car who will still want to be extremely mobile. We want to combine our expertise and experience to develop a unique, sustainable ecosystem for urban mobility. At Daimler, we are vigorously and systematically pursuing our transformation from automobile-manufacturer to provider of mobility services with our CASE strategy—CASE stands for Connectivity, Automated driving, Sharing and services, and Electric mobility.”

The joint-venture model intends to combine the following services:

1. Multimodal and on-demand mobility with Moovel and ReachNow, with seamless connectivity between different mobility options.

2. Car-sharing with Car2Go and DriveNow, which together currently operate a total of 20,000 vehicles in 31 major international cities. More than 4,000,000 customers already use these car-sharing services.

3. Ride-hailing with MyTaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi, and Beat. This European system lets users with a taxi app order or share taxis and private-hire chauffeurs.

4. Parking with ParkNow and Parkmobile Group/Parkmobile LLC, which provides ticketless, cashless, on-street parking and assistance in finding, reserving, and paying for off-street parking in a garage. This will reduce city traffic, since vehicles looking for parking can account for as much as 30% of road traffic.

5. Charging with ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions mean easily locating charging stations, using them, and paying within the world’s largest network of chargers—143,000 worldwide and growing. More people will use electric vehicles if they are confident they can find and use convenient charging stations.

For the millions of people already using these services from BMW and Daimler, nothing will change initially. Eventually there are bound to be cosmetic and procedural changes, but the effect of the joint venture should be improvement and expansion of the relevant mobility services already provided by the two partners.—Scott Blazey

[Photo courtesy of BMW AG.]



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