Stellantis, the multinational automotive manufacturing company formed last year after Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group's merger, will acquire car sharing business Share Now, a BMW and Mercedes-Benz joint venture, as the auto maker looks to expand its mobility services worldwide.
The acquisition is being carried out by Free2move, Stellantis' mobility division, as part of plans to grow the revenue of that business to €2.8 billion ($2.9bn) by 2030, with a first step of €700 million in 2025, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The move will add 14 European cities and 10,000 vehicles to Free2move’s existing car-sharing fleet of 2,500 vehicles.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. It is subject to closing conditions, including antitrust requirements.
“Integrating Share Now’s strong position in major European cities will allow our customers to gain greater access to a wider range of services to satisfy their varied mobility needs,” said Brigitte Courtehoux, chief executive of Free2move.
"This acquisition will also accelerate our profitable growth. We are now a step closer to achieving our goal of expanding Free2move’s worldwide presence to 15 million active users by 2030.”
The car-sharing market has been booming globally, with revenue projected to grow at a compound annual rate of more than 6 per cent between 2022 and 2026 to reach a market volume of $16.5bn, data from Statista indicates.
The number of global users is also anticipated to reach 60.7 million by 2026.
Free2move's mobility service model, currently operational in the US and Europe, allows a customer to take a car for a few minutes or a few hours.
If the customer would like to keep the vehicle longer, they are able to keep the same car without changing the contract while the pricing will be adjusted automatically.
Free2move currently has two million customers, 450,000 rental vehicles, 500,000 parking spaces and 250,000 charging points in Europe, the statement said.
It recently acquired Opel Rent, accelerating its growth strategy in Germany and Austria and transitioning from rent to mobility provider. Free2move is also expanding operations within the US.
After the transaction, BMW and Mercedes will focus on joint ventures in "two central business areas with high growth potential", including digital multi-mobility under the Free Now brand and digital services related to the charging of electric vehicles as part of Charge Now, they said in a separate statement.
"The new orientation enables us to scale our activities faster and thus to achieve further profitable growth in the shortest possible time," said Rainer Feurer, head of corporate investments at the BMW Group.
BMW and Mercedes' Free Now, a mobility-as-a-service platform, offers access to almost 180,000 vehicles in more than 150 cities through its app across its partner network. Users can book e-scooters, e-bikes, e-mopeds, car sharing, taxis and chauffeured vehicles in Europe through the app.
The company, which has 56.8 million users, said its transactions grew more than 31 per cent on an annual basis in the first quarter of 2022.
Charge Now, which operates on the Digital Charging Solutions (DCS) platform, brings together drivers of electric vehicles and charging station operators in 31 European countries. It offers digital services as white label solutions, ranging from access to the charging infrastructure of more than 300,000 charging points in Europe to complete billing. The DCS currently covers more than 85 per cent of Europe's charging services and also provides software for the management of e-car fleets.
"Although Mercedes-Benz will focus more strongly on its core business in the luxury segment, car sharing will remain an important part of urban mobility and an essential element in the mobility offer at Free Now," said Gero Goetzenberger, director of strategy and investments at Mercedes-Benz Mobility.
The two services will support the expansion of electric mobility, he said.