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BMW, Mercedes-Benz to sell car-sharing joint venture to Stellantis

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BMW and Mercedes-Benz are selling their car-sharing joint venture Share Now to Stellantis for an undisclosed sum, they said on Tuesday, instead focusing on the more promising software leg of their mobility alliance.

The sale follows Share Now's retreat from the North American car-sharing market in 2019 in response to high maintenance costs and what the companies then described as the "volatile state of the global mobility landscape".

It reflects the challenges the auto industries faces in tapping new sources of revenues beyond selling cars, most notably in the developing area of mobility services.

BMW Chief Executive Oliver Zipse in late 2020 fuelled speculation of a reorganisation of the mobility services alliance with Mercedes-Benz when he flagged the option of bringing in new partners or a possible partial sale.

Italian-French peer Stellantis, in turn, will beef up its mobility division Free2move via the deal, hoping a global push to cut emissions will also drive demand for car-sharing and open up new profit streams.

The acquisition will help Stellantis, formed just over a year ago through the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA, to boost its position as one of the global leaders in shared mobility.

With around 11,000 cars, Share Now is active in 16 major European cities and has around 3.4 million customers.

By selling the division, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will focus on the two remaining parts of their mobility cooperation: Free Now, an app that enables booking cars, taxis, e-scooters and e-bikes, and the charging infrastructure booking app Charge Now.

"The new orientation enables us to scale our activities faster and thus to achieve further profitable growth in the shortest possible time," said Rainer Feurer, BMW's Head of Corporate Investments.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz, Christina Amann and Giulio Piovaccari; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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