German carmakers Daimler and BMW said Wednesday they would merge their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, creating a European giant with around four million users to take on challengers like Uber.
“We will not leave the task of shaping the future of urban mobility to others,” Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said of the merger, which still requires approval from competition authorities.
“Both automotive manufacturers aim to shape the mobility of the future” with the move, the two companies said, but “will remain competitors in their respective core businesses.”
Car2Go and DriveNow allow users to rent Daimler’s Smart cars and BMW Minis as well as the two groups’ flagship Mercedes-Benz and BMW vehicles by the minute, picking them up and parking wherever is convenient rather than at a rental location.
Combined, they boast some 20,000 cars in 30 cities across Europe and North America and an Asian foothold in Chongqing, China.
The two companies said “initially nothing will change” in customers’ experience of their services.
But ultimately they aim to provide an “ecosystem” of different mobility services in cooperation with cities, with a particular focus on electric transport.
As well as merging the car-sharing apps, Daimler and BMW said they would combine other business areas like taxi hailing apps or services that locate parking spaces and electric car charging points.
Citing industry sources, German business daily Handelsblatt said the 50-50 joint venture would be worth more than 1.0 billion euros ($1.24 billion).
Companies across the car sector — Germany’s largest and most vital, supporting around 800,000 jobs — have been scrambling to adapt to an anticipated future of battery-powered, automated and highly networked vehicles.
The rise of new Silicon Valley challengers like ride-hailing giant Uber or electric carmaker Tesla have spurred the German giants into action, as have scandals around excessive harmful emissions from diesel motors and allegations of an automakers’ cartel.