Mercedes-Benz and BMW have sold their joint venture car sharing company ShareNow to Stellantis, which has signalled its intention to position itself as a leading global mobility player via its Free2Move brand. The acquisition, for an unclosed sum, adds 14 major European cities and 10,000 vehicles to Free2move’s existing car sharing fleet of 2,500 vehicles.
Following the acquisition, Free2move will add more than 3.4 million customers to its 2 million users.
“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.”
Under its Dare Forward 2020 strategy, Free2Move is aiming to grow mobility services to net revenues of €2.8 billion with a first step of €700 million revenues in 2025.
Free2move recently announced the acquisition of Opel Rent, accelerating its growth strategy in Germany and Austria and pushing the transition from rent to mobility provider. Meanwhile, it has accelerated its car-sharing expansion in the US to eight states and also operates car sharing in Europe (Paris and Madrid). It currently has a fleet of more than 450,000 cars offering rental, car sharing and subscription services, 500,000 parking places and a network of 250,000 charging stations
Focus on digital
In the wake of the deal, Mercedes-Benz Mobility and BMW Group said they plan to realign their mobility joint venture to concentrate on the two business areas they have identified as having high growth potential. They are digital multi-mobility (FreeNow) and digital services related to the charging of electric vehicles (ChargeNow).
Gero Götzenberger, director of strategy and investments at Mercedes-Benz Mobility (pictured), said: "We are proud to have founded the free-floating car sharing segment with car2go. 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 FreeNow. With FreeNow and ChargeNow, 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."
Rainer Feurer, Head of Corporate Investments at the BMW Group, added: "The mobility joint ventures have been pioneers in Europe – FreeNow and ChargeNow have been very successful in building a software platform for as many players as possible in their respective segments. With the apps of FreeNow and ChargeNow, 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."
The FreeNow app offers access to almost 180,000 vehicles in over 150 cities through its partner network. Options include e-scooters to e-bikes, e-mopeds and car sharing to taxis and chauffeured vehicles. BMW and Mercedes said ten new mobility partners will be integrated on the platform in 2022, creating further mobility options for the current 56.8 million users. In the first quarter of 2022, FreeNow's transactions grew by a total of 31.4% compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
The Digital Charging Solutions (DCS), which is behind the ChargeNow brand, brings together drivers of electric vehicles and charging station operators in 31 European countries. The DCS currently covers more than 85% of Europe's charging services - more than any other provider – and offers digital services as white label solutions, ranging from comprehensive access to the charging infrastructure of currently more than 300,000 charging points in Europe to complete billing. With ChargeNow for business, DCS also offers the leading software for the management of e-car fleets.
Completion of the acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including the satisfaction of antitrust requirements.