The German premium carmaker has bought out the stake of its long-standing joint venture partner Europcar in search for greener pastures that might include a car-sharing alliance with German rival BMW.
Stuttgart, Germany-based auto giant Daimler announced on Thursday it had agreed to buy Europcar's 25 percent stake in Car2Go for €70 million ($85.3 million), thus taking full ownership of the car-sharing service in which it had already owned 75 percent.
Car2Go has a fleet of 14,000 vehicles — mostly Daimler's ultra-compact Smart car — and claims to provide services for more than three million users in 26 cities worldwide. The company was set up in 2012 through a joint venture between Daimler and Europcar.
The acquisition comes as Daimler plans to expand its portfolio of shared mobility firms that already include transport booking app Moovel and taxi-hailing service mytaxi.
In a statement Thursday, the luxury carmaker said it wanted to "develop the required expertise and resources so that we are a leader in the future business with self-driving cars," adding that Car2Go had the necessary "algorithms which predict mobility demand" and allowing the service to "optimize maximum usage" of its fleet.
The buy-out must still receive regulatory approval and Daimler did not say when it expected the transaction to be completed.
Car-sharing alliance in the making
Daimler's move mirrors a similar one made by its German rival BMW which took full control of a competing service, DriveNow, in January. According to the news agency Reuters, there's even speculation that the two German auto giants may combine their car-sharing services.
A person familiar with the issue told Reuters in January that Daimler and BMW were planning to build a joint business which included car-sharing, ride-hailing, electric vehicle charging, and digital parking services.
Although the two companies have not confirmed the plans, Daimler said last month it was open to considering a broader alliance and a partial listing of its mobility services operations.
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The market for ride-hailing services currently makes up around a third of the global taxi market. But US investment bank Goldman Sachs expects that once driverless taxis will be in operation the market will grow eight times larger by 2030, creating revenue worth $285 billion annually.
uhe/aos (Reuters, AFP, dpa)