Stellantis’ Free2Move acquires Share Now (update)

Stellantis’ car-sharing division Free2move announced today it had signed an agreement to acquire car-sharing company Share Now, a joint venture formed by Mercedes-Benz Mobility Group and BMW Group in 2019.

Share Now is a market leader and pioneer of free-floating car-sharing and is represented in 16 major European cities with around 10 000 vehicles, including 3 000 electric cars. About 3,4 million customers use the service.

Free2move has designed an innovative mobility service model that adapts to its customers. This solution, already operational in the United States and Europe, allows a customer to take a car for a few minutes or a few hours. If customers want the vehicle longer, they can keep the same car without changing the contract. Free2move pricing adjusts automatically.

“This proposed agreement further positions Free2move as the leading global mobility player, adding 14 major European cities and 10 000 vehicles to Free2move’s existing car-sharing fleet of 2 500 vehicles,” reads the press release.

15 million users by 2030

“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, the CEO of Free2move.

“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.”

“This acquisition will further enhance its economies of scale and synergies, contributing to its Dare Forward 2030 ambition of growing the profitable mobility service to net revenues of €2,8 billion with the first step of €700 million revenues in 2025,” the press release continues.

On the expansion path

Stellantis’ mobility arm is clearly following the expansion path. 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 United States, with service now available in Washington (D.C.), Portland (Oregon), Denver (Colorado), Columbus (Ohio), and Austin (Texas). Free2move also already operated car-sharing in Europe, more specifically in Paris and Madrid.

And what about the Germans?

ShareNow hasn’t been a success story for the two German premium brands. It was already a fusion of two not-so-successful stories, DriveNow (BMW) and Car2Go. The major problem seems to be the free-floating system (where customers can pick up or leave the shared car wherever they want) which makes it much more expensive.

The free-floating market is in fact shrinking a lot these days. Several big players like Ford (Chariot) or GM (Maven) already stopped the services a while ago and in Belgium, there’s only one such service still active, the Poppy service under the D’Ieteren umbrella.

Stellantis says that free-floating services can be profitable if you are also proposing the car loan for longer periods like they are doing with Free2Move. The company doesn’t give any financial details, though. BMW and Mercedes pulled the plug because losses were piling up. They will concentrate on Free Now and Charge Now.

“The sale of the car-sharing subsidiary contributes to the realignment of the mobility joint ventures,” says a BMW press release. “In the future, shareholders intend to concentrate on two central business areas with high growth potential: digital multi-mobility (Free Now) and digital services related to the charging of electric vehicles (Charge  Now).

Gero Götzenberger, Director of Strategy and Investments at Mercedes-Benz Mobility: “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 Free Now.”

“With Free Now and Charge Now, 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, adds: “The mobility joint ventures have been pioneers in Europe. Free Now and Charge Now have successfully built a software platform for as many players as possible in their respective segments.”

“With the apps of Free Now and Charge Now, 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.”

Free Now and Charge Now

In 2021, Free Now recorded strong growth figures in the multimodal sector, i.e., e-scooters, e-bikes, e-mopeds, and car-sharing. It was able to almost triple the number of transactions compared to the previous year despite the pandemic.

This year, Free Now is further expanding its multi-mobility offering. A total of ten new mobility partners will be integrated into the platform in 2022, creating further mobility options for the current 56,8 million users. As a result, in the first quarter of 2022, Free Now’s transactions grew by a total of 31,4% compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

The Digital Charging Solutions GmbH (DCS), behind the Charge Now brand, brings together drivers of electric vehicles and charging station operators in 31 European countries. The market leader offers digital services as white label solutions, ranging from comprehensive access to the charging infrastructure of more than 300 000 charging points in Europe to complete billing.

The DCS currently covers some 85% of Europe’s charging services. With Charge Now for Business, DCS also offers the leading software for the management of e-car fleets. As a result, the company benefits from the increasing demand for electric mobility.

The entry of BP as the third shareholder in 2021 strengthens DCS to harness the further growth potential fully. The cooperation agreement with Here, the platform for location-based data and technology, in the first quarter of 2022, and the partnership with smart and ABB-E-Mobility before the premiere of the all-electric smart #1 underline the strong momentum of DCS.

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