German carmakers Daimler and BMW unveiled a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric car charging business to compete with mobility services provided by Uber and other tech firms. The luxury car firms said they would invest more than 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) to expand the joint venture, shifting beyond manufacturing and car sales towards pay-per-minute or pay-per-mile systems. Consultancy PwC has said carmakers face marginalisation by cash-rich technology firms unless they develop services based on vehicle usage.
Established ride-hailing firms have been expanding. China's Didi Chuxing aims to build its business in Latin America and Uber is gaining a stranglehold on its U.S. market. "Further cooperation with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option," Daimler's Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said.
Daimler's Car2Go car-sharing brand will be combined with BMW's DriveNow, ParkNow and ChargeNow businesses, with both carmakers holding 50 percent stake in the venture. The venture has five strands: REACH NOW, a smartphone-based route management and booking service, CHARGE NOW for electric car charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking services and SHARE NOW for car-sharing.
"These five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously," said BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger. BMW and Daimler are working to develop autonomous cars, vehicles which could enable them to up-end the market for taxi and ride-hailing services.