Stellantis to buy BMW and Mercedes-Benz mobility venture Share Now
06 May 2022
Stellantis’ mobility company Free2move will acquire Share Now, the car-sharing joint venture established by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The three firms agreed not to disclose the details of the transaction, with approval from the relevant authorities still required.
The move will increase Free2move’s influence, adding 14 major European cities and 10,000 vehicles to the Stellantis company’s fleet of 2,500 vehicles. The acquisition will also contribute to Stellantis’ Dare Forward 2030 strategy. The 14-brand giant wants to grow the profitability of its mobility services to achieve net revenues of €2.8 billion by 2030, after reaching €700 million in 2025.
‘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, Free2move CEO. ‘Equally important, 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.’
So long to car-sharing?
Established in 2019, Share Now formed part of a collection of businesses that emerged from the combination of car2go and DriveNow. This included multi-modal, charging, ride-hailing, parking and car-sharing services. Investing €1billion into the new joint venture at the time, Mercedes-Benz and BMW clearly had high hopes for the offerings.
But it looked as though the two carmakers might have cast their net too wide. In March last year, Park Now, which operated in over 1,100 cities across 11 countries at the time, was sold to EasyPark. The sale looked to free up BMW and Mercedes-Benz to focus on their automotive efforts.
The same looks to be true with the sale of Share Now, as the pair point to the ‘realignment’ of the mobility joint venture. By moving away from car-sharing, the companies intend to concentrate on areas with high-growth potential. This means more time and funds will be allotted to Free Now, the digital multi-mobility business, and Charge Now, which oversees electric-vehicle charging services.
‘The mobility joint ventures have been pioneers in Europe – Free Now and Charge Now have been very successful in building a software platform for as many players as possible in their respective segments,’ said Rainer Feurer, head of corporate investments at BMW Group. ‘With the apps of Free Now and Charge Now, we want to provide our customers with a comprehensive and wide range of digital services. The new orientation enables us to scale our activities faster and thus to achieve further profitable growth in the shortest possible time.’
Free Now and Charge Now
As a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) platform, Free Now offers some 56.8 million users access to almost 180,000 vehicles in over 150 cities via an app. This includes electric scooters, electric bikes, electric mopeds, shared cars, taxis, and chauffeured vehicles. Moreover, Free Now will be filling part of the gap left by the loss of Share Now, offering vehicles from Sixt share, Miles, and Show Now. In total, ten new mobility partners will be integrated into the platform this year.
With Digital Charging Solutions (DCS) as its platform, Charge Now works with EV infrastructure operators in 31 European countries, covering more than 300,000 charging points. This represents over 85% of the region’s plug-in services. Working with businesses, Charge Now also offers software for electric car fleets. Last year, BP became DCS’ third shareholder, representing the wave of power companies looking to get involved with EV charging.
‘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 Götzenberger, director of strategy and investments at Mercedes-Benz Mobility. ‘With Free Now and Charge Now, we are focusing on two growth segments that will continue to offer our customers the entire range of mobility services in the future and support the expansion of electric mobility.’
Strategic Stellantis assimilation
Stellantis’ Free2move operates in Paris and Madrid, while a separate acquisition of Opel Rent means it is moving into Germany and Austria. In the US, its services are available in Washington, Portland, Denver, Columbus, and Austin.
The Stellantis mobility company allows customers to grab a car for minutes, hours, days, or months. Pricing adjusts automatically if the customer would like to keep the vehicle for longer, without the need to change contracts.
Across its car-sharing, rental, and subscription services, Free2move boasts a fleet of more than 450,000 cars, as well as 500,000 parking places and a network of 250,000 charging stations. The Stellantis arm aims to add over 3.4 million customers to its two million users. In 2022, Free2Move became an independent company owned by the then PSA Group. This then transferred as PSA Group merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in 2021, creating Stellantis.