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BMW and Daimler invest €1 billion in joint mobility services provider

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The BMW Group and Daimler AG are pooling their mobility services to create a new global player in the rapidly expanding segment.

The two companies are investing more than €1 billion to develop and more closely intermesh their offerings for car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multimodal transport.

The cooperation comprises 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 two companies’ mobility services have a strong customer base, with a combined total of over 60 million active customers to date. Te aim is to build on the existing European and North American base to grow their combined global footprint. Here’s how each of the five core services breaks down:

  • REACH NOW offers more than 6.7 million users simple, direct access to a range of mobility services through a single multimodal platform. The REACH NOW apps will offer a range of options for getting from A to B, allowing users to book and pay directly for public transport and various other mobility options, such as car-sharing, ride-hailing and bike rentals. REACH NOW will be managed by Daniela Gerd tom Markotten as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with Johannes Prantl as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
  • CHARGE NOW is a service by Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (DCS). It makes public charge points quick and easy to locate, use and pay for, both at home and abroad. Digital Charging Solutions GmbH develops simple, standardised access to public charge points for car manufacturers and fleet operators. With over 100,000 charge points across 25 countries, its white-label solutions are helping OEMs and fleet operators to realise their strategies for electric mobility. Customers benefit from cross-border access to one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing charging networks, with over 250 charge point operators (CPOs) to date.
  • PARK NOW offers users parking solutions at a glance, allows them to reserve parking slots and manage their parking times, and enables ticketless entry and exit in public garages as well as cashless payment of parking fees. In addition, with the search for parking currently accounting for about 30 percent of the traffic on urban roads, PARK NOW is helping towns and cities to reduce traffic volumes, thereby helping to make city centres cleaner, healthier and more liveable. In Europe and North America over 30 million customers are already using the service in more than 1,100 cities. CHARGE NOW and PARK NOW are headed by Jörg Reimann as CEO, with Thomas Menzel as CFO.
  • FREE NOW offers a variety of mobility services including taxis, private chauffeurs with rental vehicles, and state-of-the-art e-scooters, all at the tap of a finger. One of the largest ride-hailing services in Europe and Latin America, FREE NOW already serves more than 21 million customers and over 250,000 drivers, who make a valuable contribution to the reduction of traffic in city centres. FREE NOW is headed by Marc Berg as CEO, with Sebastian Hofelich as CFO.
  • SHARE NOW is a free-floating car-sharing service that allows customers to rent and pay for vehicles by smartphone. Its fleet will now be extended to incorporate a wider range of models and increase market coverage. More than 4 million customers in total currently use the fleet’s 20,000 vehicles in 31 cities around the world. Car-sharing increases vehicle utilization rates, helping to cut the overall number of cars on the roads in urban areas. Olivier Reppert has been appointed CEO of SHARE NOW, with Stefan Glebke as CFO.

The partners say their new mobility portfolio will be easy to access, intuitive to use, and will cater to customers’ needs. The next few years will see up to 1,000 new jobs created worldwide – including in the Berlin HQ and Germany.

“Our mobility services have developed a strong customer base and we are now taking the next strategic step. We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than €1 billion to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “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. Further cooperations with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option.”

“We are creating a leading global game changer. The 60 million customers we already have today will benefit from a seamlessly integrated, sustainable ecosystem of car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multimodal transport services. We have a clear vision: these five services will merge ever more closely to form a single mobility service portfolio with an all-electric, self-driving fleet of vehicles that charge and park autonomously and interconnect with the other modes of transport,” said Harald Krüger, Management Board Chairman of BMW AG. “This service portfolio will be a key cornerstone in our strategy as a mobility provider. The cooperation is the perfect way for us to maximize our chances in a growing market, while sharing the investments.”

5 Minutes With… Peter O’Driscoll, UK Country Manager, RingGo cashless parking

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As part of our ongoing fleet executive interview series, we sat down with RingGo’s UK Country Manager Peter O’Driscoll to talk about new products, current market trends and technological innovations…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

RingGo is the UK’s leading phone parking service – available in more than 450 towns and cities across the UK.  

RingGo Corporate is our unique offering for businesses, which lets employees pay for parking quickly and easily using their company account.

Most of the UK’s largest telecoms, utilities, and service companies use RingGo Corporate.  Quite simply because it improves the efficiency of their business, increases employee and customer satisfaction, and reduces pay and claim.  

One company says they save £3 million pa because they’ve reduced penalty charges so much! Another saves £500,000 each year.  A major telecoms company told us they’ve seen customer satisfaction increase since introducing RingGo Corporate – just because engineers no longer worry about parking overruns and can take time over each job.  

What have been the biggest challenges the Fleet Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

We know businesses find it hard to work efficiently with increasing congestion in towns and cities. At a tactical level, things like our award-winning space availability solution already help, by analysing RingGo parking data and highlighting where free parking spots are most likely to be. This can save countless motorists from circling for spaces.  

And as part of the new BMW/Daimler mobility services joint venture, we will in future be able to offer wider transport solutions that use intelligent data to indicate the best mode for each trip.  This will also help employees carry out their critical journeys in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way.  

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We see a whole host of new technology which helps employees work more efficiently while they’re out on the road.  The simple act of avoiding congestion, finding a space, parking and paying, close to your destination, simply wasn’t possible a decade ago – but now, everyone has a smartphone and we take it for granted.  The rate of change is astonishing.  

What is the biggest priority for the Fleet Services industry in 2019?

Improving efficiency and road safety is also key, so if you can make the lives of your employees easier and less stressful, we obviously think you should do that!   

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

From our point of view, we work closely with hundreds of Councils and many of them are under pressure to improve local air quality.  Several are varying parking tariffs to encourage electric and hybrid vehicles, and yes often discouraging older petrol and diesel vehicles too.  That’s something that will affect many more fleets in 2019, especially those that need to travel in City centres.  

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

The introduction of in car payments for parking – In-car is coming…

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

Whether the progress in autonomous vehicles is as fast as some predict right now.

Which person in, or associated with, the Fleet Services industry would you most like to meet?

The Fleet Managers of every major utility – can you sort that please?!

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Fleet Services sector?

The most surprising thing that we have learnt is what actually constitutes a fleet vehicle. Historically these were either purchased outright or leased by the company but today there are a multitude of funding methods, with a large number of fleet users funding these from cash, so identifying what constitutes a fleet user presents its challenges. 

You go to the bar at the Fleet Services Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A rum and Coke always sits well.  The nice thing of course being that if I leave the car overnight I can always top up the next morning with RingGo.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Building cool, useful stuff that people like using!  I love it when people ask what I do and they reply “Oh I use that.  It’s great!”

What could be nicer than making people’s daily lives that little bit easier?

And what’s the most challenging?

Purely and simply juggling all the amazing opportunities for new and better parking services.  With limited resources, I have to make difficult choices on a daily basis.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Try and see ahead and make plans for what’s coming. Then focus on two or three key areas to deliver.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders… and their unique entrepreneurial spirit.