According to a recent report by Geekwire, ShareNow, the botched mobility venture between BMW and Daimler, has ceased operations in five North American cities. The cities include Austin, Calgary, Chicago, Denver, and Portland, and the reduction in service is just the latest news in the ongoing debacle that has ensued after the two German automakers joined forces to invest in different forms of mobility.
In a statement made by ShareNow, those in charge are said to have been faced with the difficult decision after underestimating the level of investment it would require to take on more established players in the sphere, and that the current mobility landscape is in a constant state of change within complex transportation markets. We have been chronicling the development of the mobility ventures that BMW and now Daimler have been behind, starting with BMW restructuring its ReachNow car- and ride-sharing platform in the Pacific Northwest before it was essentially shutdown overnight a year later, and the specifics of the engagements between the two bellwether automakers.
To catch everyone up, these various mobility services, which offer everything from car rental, to parking, to public transit solutions, come under many names, some of which can be viewed below in the animated graphic. With the reality of a vastly different automotive future and expenditures for the research and development it will require weighing heavily on the profitability of global automakers, BMW and Daimler sought to combine their individual efforts under a single roof.
Unfortunately, even after funneling over $1 billion into the joint venture, things do not seem to be faring well, specifically in the U.S., which has a less developed mobility market than Europe. While the parking, charging, car-sharing, and rental services offered by BMW and Daimler seem to be operating with success in Europe, where they exist in a more mature environment in which their use has become commonplace, the story is very different in the U.S., which remains the second largest auto market in the world.
ShareNow isn’t leaving the U.S. or North America completely. Operations will continue in focus cities like Montreal, New York, Seattle, and Washington D.C., where the offerings were met with a higher degree of success. Nonetheless, the outlook doesn’t seem positive, and the mobility sector, especially in terms of ride-sharing, car-sharing and rental, and similar forms of transportation, appears to have been seized by those who got there first from the tech sphere as opposed to the deep-pocketed rivals from the automotive sector, where the actual hardware is made.
BMWBlog also picked up on the story, and reported that ShareNow having to shrink its breadth of service follows Ford ending its Canvas car subscription in September, and GM’s similar Maven program leaving eight cities in May.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Daimler AG.]