German automaker Daimler has been steadily investing in a stream of new transportation services as it positions itself for the next generation of car ownership and travel. Today, it consolidated its position in one of those business: it paid €70 million ($85 million) to buy the remaining 25 percent of car-sharing company car2Go that it did not already own, valuing car2Go at €280 million ($341 million).
Car rental provider Europcar, the company selling the stake, said that it will be using the proceeds of the sale to deepen its investments into “new mobility” services. It said it plans to invest between €150 million and €250 million between now and 2020 to buy or invest in businesses that it can fully own rather than operate in a JV with another party. Europcar’s current businesses in this area include Ubeeqo, BlueMove and Brunel.
“We want to thank the Daimler Group for our longstanding partnership since 2012 within car2go Europe,” Caroline Parot, Europcar CEO, said in a statement. “This investment has taught us a great deal about car sharing and the acquired knowledge will be most valuable to us.”
Some have speculated (numerous times) that Daimler might be planning to merge car2Go with DriveNow, a similar service from BMW. Consolidating Daimler’s ownership in car2Go might be a step towards doing that.
Car2Go itself was originally founded in Germany and its US headquarters is in Austin, Texas. It entered a JV with Europcar in 2011. Daimler got involved after that. It has around 1 million users in the North American market and 3 million overall.
Daimler — which picked up a new majority shareholder itself earlier this week in the form of Geely, the Chinese company that also owns Volvo — has been on an acquisition and investment tear in the last several years.
It has included buying or taking majority stakes in a number of regional app-based car hailing services that compete against Uber, including most recently Chauffeur Prive in Paris (many of those holdings, such as Hailo, now operate under the myTaxi brand).
Alongside car2Go, Daimler has also delved into other kinds of usage models, buying P2P carpooling startup flinc and investing in carpooling and shuttle service Via. It’s also invested in startups and technologies adjacent to the core transportation experience, for example taking a stake in battery startup StoreDot.
If it seems like Daimler is investing in everything and anything that moves, so to speak, in fact there is a method to this madness: it wants to fill out the many complicated aspects and permutations of car services with corresponding future bets in what its head of mobility services, Jörg Lamparter, describes as a “broad portfolio.”
“Over the course of the last several months, we have intensified our investments in mobility services in order to create a holistic mobility system with a broad portfolio,” he said. “As part of this strategy, we decided to fully acquire the remaining shares in car2go Europe.”
Updated with correct founding location. Apologies.