Car Industry

BMW, Daimler invest over $1B in Uber-fighting mobility group

Strange bedfellows? Not in this case.

BMW

Rumors have circulated for years that BMW and Daimler may one day merge their mobility ventures in an attempt to underscore established players in the industry like Uber and Lyft. Now we finally have a bit more information about what to expect.

BMW and Daimler on Friday unveiled their grand plan to put their mobility services under a single roof. The two automakers will invest more than 1 billion euros (about $1.1 billion) to create five separate joint ventures: Reach Now, Charge Now, Free Now, Park Now and Share Now.

"Our mobility services have developed a strong customer base and we are now taking the next strategic step," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG, in a statement. "We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than 1 billion euro to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility." The two automakers claim more than 60 million customers have already used their services, so they have a well-established base as a jumping-off point.

One (very) big happy family.

BMW

Reach Now will focus on multimodal transport. It'll let you book and pay for a wide variety of transportation options, including public transport, bike rentals, car sharing and ride hailing. Charge Now will help you find public charging points, and it, too, will include built-in payment options that will work in multiple countries. Park Now seeks to improve the process of finding and reserving parking spots. Free Now will focus on ride hailing, including private chauffeurs and electric scooters. Finally, Share Now will be a car-sharing service that will let you rent and pay for a free-floating pool of available vehicles via a smart device.

The groups will be helmed in Berlin, and the two automakers expect that their joint ventures will create about 1,000 jobs worldwide. The early phases of the program will focus on "investment and growth," as BMW said in its press release, with "attractive profitability" to follow – something Uber is still working on, given its fourth-quarter loss of $1.1 billion.

Eventually, BMW and Daimler want these services to grow even closer. BMW makes mention of a fleet of "all-electric autonomous" vehicles that will one day join the service. They'll park and charge themselves, leaving users free to spend their time worrying about other things -- like whether to buy a BMW or a Mercedes, since the two will remain rivals in every other sense of the term.