FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automakers Daimler and BMW say that trustworthy handling of personal data will be a key competitive advantage in their new joint venture that offers customers app-based services like car-sharing.
The two competitors for luxury car customers said Friday they are investing more than a billion euros (over $1.1 billion) in their combined digital and mobile services. Joining their efforts means they can more quickly achieve rapid growth and win dominant positions in car-sharing, ride-hailing and ticketless parking, they said.
The alliance underscores the auto industry’s shift toward new technologies and business models based on software and mobile communications in order to meet competition from tech firms such as Uber, Lyft and Waymo.
Daimler AG’s chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, said the companies could offer users assurances that their data would be kept secure, amid recent questions about how tech companies are handling individuals’ data. Zetsche said he didn’t want to criticize tech companies but offered that BMW and Daimler had more than century-long histories that established “a tremendous foundation of trust” because people relied on them for safe vehicles and could be confident “of the safety of their data in our hands.”
Zetsche said combining forces meant that services like short-term car rental through a smartphone app had a chance “to go for growth, to go for No. 1 positions where possible.”
Between them, the two companies have more than 20,000 vehicles offered through car-sharing programs in 30 cities worldwide. Customers use a smartphone app to find and use free-floating cars parked around densely populated urban centers.
Zetsche and BMW AG’s Harald Krueger formally launched the alliance at a joint news conference in Berlin after regulatory authorities gave permission for the deal, announced last year, to formally close.
The alliance has its headquarters in Berlin and is organized in five different operations: charging services under the Charge Now brand, ride-hailing under Free Now, ticketless parking under Park Now, carsharing as Share Now and journeys across multiple modes of transport called Reach Now. The businesses have their own CEO and the two automakers will function as shareholders overseeing broad strategy while not interfering in the business’s operations.