BMW AG CEO Harald Kruger, left, and Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, shake hands at a news conference to present plans for combining the companies' car-sharing businesses, in Berlin, Germany. Picture: REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
BMW AG CEO Harald Kruger, left, and Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, shake hands at a news conference to present plans for combining the companies' car-sharing businesses, in Berlin, Germany. Picture: REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

German carmakers Daimler and BMW have unveiled a joint ride-hailing, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging business to compete with mobility services provided by Uber and other tech firms.

The luxury car firms said they would invest more than €1bn (R15.7bn) 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 US market.

"Further co-operation with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option," Daimler's CEO Dieter Zetsche said.

Daimler's Car2Go car-sharing brand will be combined with BMW's DriveNow, ParkNow and ChargeNow businesses, with both carmakers holding a 50% 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 CEO 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.
Reuters