BMW And Mercedes Sell Car-Sharing Service To Major Rival

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Share Now left the US recently, but this purchase could bring it back.

"Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer" is one of the oldest sayings in the book, but it's still applicable in business today. A few years ago, BMW and Mercedes-Benz teamed up to create a series of enterprises to increase their brand awareness and create efficiencies. The highly competitive duo that do battle with models like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, is now selling one of its businesses to a division of Stellantis for an undisclosed sum. If successful, the German automakers will offload a struggling car-sharing business onto Stellantis, whose brands include Jeep, Dodge, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo. The automaker has already been purchasing companies to accelerate its EV development, so buying a car-sharing business isn't entirely unheard of.

The deal, which still has to pass regulatory hurdles, gets BMW and Mercedes out of the car-sharing business, where they've both been for more than a decade. The German rivals teamed up in 2018 to combine their existing businesses and pool resources against rising newcomers like Uber. Share Now leads the industry in Europe but has struggled with profitability.

Wheel Mercedes-Benz BMW

Stellantis believes it has a better shot at turning a profit with the business. The auto giant's 14 brands are heavily concentrated in North America and Europe, and the company says it will gradually phase out models from the German companies in favor of its vehicles, such as the new Fiat 500e . That said, Share Now already had a turn in the US, but it was scrapped in 2020 over operating expenses and what the two German companies called the "volatile state of the global mobility industry."

Stellantis is expected to pay around €250 million (about $263 million) for the division, which loses around €200 million ($211 million) each year. The deal adds to Stellantis' existing Free2move car-sharing service, and the automaker says it plans to grow the services to a combined €2.8 billion ($2.95 billion) by 2030.

BMW Stellantis

Though its current business is shaky, Share Now is not alone in the shared mobility space. Volkswagen will soon complete its acquisition of Europcar to compete in the industry, and we can't forget that Uber is still a force.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW won't split up if the sale is successful. The pair still jointly own two other mobility and EV-related businesses: Free Now and Charge Now. Free Now allows users to book cars, e-bikes, scooters, and more. The service has 56.8 million current active users. The service operates in 31 countries and provides access to more than 300,000 EV chargers on the continent. Charge Now is also available for businesses, with fleet management and telematics software among its offerings.

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Source Credits: Automotive News Europe

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