BMW, Mercedes, selling car-sharing business to Stellantis

FRANKFURT/MILAN — Stellantis has agreed to buy the Share Now car-sharing business from BMW and Mercedes-Benz as the two German automakers focus on the software part of their mobility alliance.

Stellantis wants to position itself as a global leader in car-sharing, using this step announced on Tuesday to expand its existing business in the area.

Share Now, the European market leader, allows customers to use smartphones for short-term rentals of cars including BMW, Mini, Mercedes, Smart and Fiat vehicles in cities.

Brigitte Courtehoux, who heads Stellantis’ mobility division Free2move, said the deal was part of the group’s plans to grow net revenue from that business to 700 million euros ($735 million) in 2025 and to 2.8 billion euros in 2030, up from 40 million euros last year.

“We will really accelerate in terms of revenue,” she said.

Stellantis will strengthen its mobility division Free2move via the deal, hoping a global push to cut emissions will also drive demand for car-sharing and open new profit streams.

Over the next decade, Stellantis intends to expand Free2move’s presence worldwide, growing it to 15 million active users.

The targets come a little more than a year after the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group to form a sprawling manufacturer of 14 brands with nameplates such as Jeep, Peugeot and Fiat to add scale in the EV and autonomous driving shift.

The sale marks another step in reshaping mobility offerings for BMW and Mercedes, which combined their respective services in 2018 to take on providers like Uber Technologies and save costs.

The German automakers’ decision to ditch the car-sharing service underscores the challenges faced in making such offerings profitable without the requisite scale.

BMW and Mercedes started car-sharing in 2011 and 2008, respectively, as a way to get younger buyers to try their brands and keep up with changing mobility needs in cities.

Share Now is the European market leader and has added longer term rental options beyond using vehicles by the minute with help from a smartphone app. But it has struggled to turn a profit.

Better chance at success

Stellantis, with its broad presence in North America through its Chrysler and Jeep brands, could have better chances for car-sharing success. It will gradually replace the BMW and Mercedes vehicles in its fleet with models from Stellantis’ brands, the company said.

Courtehoux said Stellantis will aim to have entirely electrified fleets in Europe by 2030 and the U.S. by 2035.

While the companies didn’t disclose the price, Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler, said it would likely be less than $525 million, and perhaps about $262 million.

Italian daily la Repubblica said the deal was worth about $105 million.

Pieper estimates Share Now has lost around 200 million euros annually. “Maybe Stellantis, with its low financial investment and a leaner cost structure, can make more out of it,” Pieper said.

Share Now retreated from North America in 2019 in response to high maintenance costs and what the companies then described as the “volatile state of the global mobility landscape.”

By selling the division, BMW and Mercedes will focus on the two remaining parts of their mobility cooperation: Free Now, an app that enables booking cars, taxis, e-scooters and e-bikes, and the charging infrastructure booking app Charge Now.

Volkswagen Group, Stellantis’ biggest European rival, is closing in on the acquisition of Europcar as part of a broader push to create a sprawling mobility services platform. A consortium led by VW expects the deal to be completed before the end of the second quarter.

Bloomberg contributed to this report

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