UPDATE, March 1, 2019: Automakers Daimler AG and BMW Group announced an expansion of their existing collaboration to include the development of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Through this collaboration, the companies will focus on developing technologies for "driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and parking features (up to SAE Level 4)."
"Combining the key expertise of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology," said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG, Development, in a statement.
This announcement comes on the heels of a $1 billion-plus deal the companies recently signed to collaborate on ride-hailing, parking and EV charging services — and the joint efforts likely will not stop here. In a press release, the companies said they plan to "discuss the possibility of extending their collaboration to cover higher levels of automation, both on highways and in urban areas."
- Automakers Daimler AG and BMW Group announced they have signed a $1 billion-plus deal to merge their ride-hailing, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging services to create what the companies call "a new global player providing sustainable urban mobility."
- The pair will establish five joint ventures: REACH NOW for multimodal services, CHARGE NOW for charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking and SHARE NOW for car-sharing. The plans are expected to create around 1,000 new jobs worldwide, with future research and initiatives expected around a fleet of all-electric autonomous vehicles (AVs).
- "By creating an intelligent network of joint ventures, we will be able to shape current and future urban mobility and draw maximum benefit from the opportunities opened up by digitalization, shared services and the increasing mobility needs of our customers," Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said in a statement.
After hinting at the deal for months, the two companies have made it official as they look to challenge the likes of Uber, which has expanded beyond ride-hailing into new areas including AV research, transit and dockless bikes and scooters. The pair said the work on their combined initiatives, which look to capitalize on the growing popularity of trends like car-sharing, should help make traffic more efficient in urban areas and link together various transport options in a seamless way.
Having perhaps traditionally viewed each other as competitors, this alliance is another example of automakers banding together to stay competitive in a crowded urban marketplace. Early this year, Ford and Volkswagen pledged to cooperate on EVs, AVs and other areas of shared expertise under a sweeping global alliance, while BMW-owned MINI has made moves away from manufacturing cars and into other areas such as real estate, fashion and mobility. Meanwhile, BMW has teamed with Intel, Mobileye and Fiat Chrysler to explore autonomous technology.
This joint venture between Daimler and BMW will allow the automakers to collaborate on new projects like software for transportation services, insurance underwriting and online platforms for booking and organizing mobility options. As cities continue to be testbeds for innovation, these new initiatives and the rollout of seamless EV charging and AV fleets should serve to help the growth in electrified vehicles on city streets and hopefully ease congestion.