You can trust us with car-sharing data: BMW, Daimler

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Automakers Daimler and BMW said that trustworthy handling of personal data will be a key competitive advantage in their new joint venture that offers app-based services like free-floating car-sharing in big cities.

The two competitors for luxury car customers said on Friday they are investing more than a billion euros (over USD1.1 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 that don’t necessarily involve owning a car. Carmakers are investing billions in order to meet competition from tech firms such as Uber, Lyft and Waymo.

Between them, the two German companies have more than 20,000 vehicles offered through car-sharing programmes in 30 cities worldwide. Customers use a smartphone app to find and use cars parked around densely populated urban centres instead of at fixed rental locations. Customers pay by the minute rather than rent for days at a time.

Daimler AG’s Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, said that 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”.

He 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 did not want to criticise tech companies but said that if people could trust the two car companies to make safe cars then that established a foundation to trust “the safety of their data in our hands”. Zetsche and BMW’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 close. Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, is headquartered in Stuttgart and BMW AG is based in Munich.