Daimler, BMW win green light for car-sharing merger

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German carmakers Daimler and BMW said Wednesday they had won final approval to merge their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, paving the way for the creation of a European giant to challenge the likes of Uber.

In a joint statement, the companies said they had received the green light from US regulators, removing the last obstacle to the deal after EU anti-trust authorities already gave the nod in November.

“Now that the approval of the competition authorities has been received, the goal is to close this transaction by January 31, 2019,” Daimler and BMW said.

The deal, first announced in March, will see the birth of a joint venture owned in equal parts by the two longtime rivals.

Car2Go and DriveNow allow users to rent Daimler’s Smart cars and BMW Minis as well as the groups’ flagship Mercedes-Benz and BMW vehicles by the minute, picking them up and parking wherever is convenient rather than at a rental location.

Combined, they boast some 20,000 cars in 30 cities around the world used by more than four million customers.

As well as merging their car-sharing apps, Daimler and BMW said they would combine other mobility services like electric car charging points, taxi-hailing apps and services that locate parking spaces.

The deal comes as companies across Germany’s crucial car sector are scrambling to adapt to an anticipated future of battery-powered, automated and highly networked vehicles.

The rise of new Silicon Valley challengers like ride-hailing giant Uber or electric carmaker Tesla have spurred the German giants into action, as have scandals around excessive harmful emissions from diesel motors and allegations of an automakers’ cartel.