How Daimler looked into the future

Almost ten years ago, Daimler AG launched a new era of mobility: Car sharing, Mobility apps, Mobility-as-a-Service, and On-Demand-Mobility. Services that are available worldwide today. But how did the Urban Mobility adventure begin at Daimler?

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." This is how the US computer scientist Alan Kay once spoke.

Alan Kay knows his business about future-oriented work. The current MIT lecturer researched as a senior scientist for tech pioneers like Atari and Apple, and shaped the architecture of graphical user interfaces with his concept of icons and windows.

In 2007, a young team in the division of Business Innovation followed Alan Kay's approach: predict the future, invent the future. In a poorly furnished office, between half-packed boxes, the founding members stuck their heads together on a rainy autumn day and wondered what urban mobility could look like in 10 to 20 years.

Car sharing as a bold idea

They juggled with ideas until the question arose: Are alternative car rental concepts a potential mass market? How can car rental be automated? Shortly afterward, a bold idea was born: city dwellers should be able to drive their own cars every day without owning a car. Car sharing.

Today a prominent buzzword in the automobile cosmos, at that time this concept mostly abruptly caused frizzing eyebrows. Too complicated, too inflexible, too non-transparent. But it was precisely these weak points that should be addressed. City dwellers should be able to access a car anywhere and at any time without a basic charge. Thanks to GPS and their smartphones. A short time later, the first presentation entitled "City Smart" wandered through the corridors of Daimler AG.

What does the mobility of the future look like? This question was asked by a young team in the former Business Innovation department.

Two friends, one problem

While in Stuttgart attempts were being made to spread the word about the new generation of car sharing, one evening in Munich the two Hamburg-based Jan-Niclaus Mewes and Sven Külper had a completely different challenge: How do we get a taxi without a suitable telephone number? That was a question that kept them busy not only that night.

Again, a combination of GPS and smartphone was to provide the solution - via app, via location check. Only what to do if in 2008 not every taxi driver is on the move with a smartphone? Then the smartphone has to come to the taxi driver.

Together with brother Johannes Mewes, Jan-Niclaus Mewes and Sven Külper set to work in a small attic apartment. Basic research was in demand. Conversations with taxi drivers, handing out flyers. The first big investment was to give away 100 iPhones to Hamburg taxi drivers and to make the advantages of these little all-rounders appealing to them. A big mobile phone gift campaign on the street? What at first sounded like a crazy idea turned out to be a brilliant move.

At car2go, as Daimler AG's car-sharing service was named, the innovative concept also made its way onto the streets. An enthusiastic preparation phase was followed by the first pilot in Ulm. Ulm became Austin and Vancouver. When car2go was launched in Hamburg in 2011, the next start-up was born a short time later in the Daimler division of Business Innovation.

moovel connects everything

moovel wanted to put an end to unnecessary jumping around between various apps, with confusing payment processes in order to get from A to B over longer distances. One app, one route, one payment process. This is how the world's first mobility app was created, which makes it possible to search, book and pay for different mobility offers. The reward was the German Mobility Award. Cities and municipalities became aware of the offer. Daimler had discovered a new, huge field of customers: Metropolitan areas.

At the same time, excitement about mytaxi grew. Daimler was also involved with the newly founded Daimler Mobility Services GmbH as an investor and supported the founding team with its extensive network and know-how.

"In order to come one step closer to our vision of becoming Europe's largest and best taxi app, we needed a strong partner at our side," commented Jan-Niclaus Mewes on the considerations when mytaxi finally became part of the Daimler family.

Daimler Mobility takes pioneering step

Daimler Mobility Services GmbH, a subsidiary of Daimler Financial Services AG, took over responsibility for the innovation hub Business Innovation in 2011 and as a result also for the mobility concept car2go. With moovel and the one hundred percent takeover of mytaxi, the integration of further brands and products resulted in a unique mobility ecosystem.

A groundbreaking step for the innovative mobility trio was finally taken in February 2019, when Daimler and BMW sealed the merger of car2go, mytaxi and moovel with the mobility services of the BMW Group in Berlin. The major feature of this new mobility family: for the first time, car sharing, mobility-as-a-service, ride-hailing, charging and innovative parking management were offered under one roof.

The joint ventures SHARE NOW, FREE NOW, REACH NOW, CHARGE NOW and PARK NOW took up the challenge of making sustainable urban mobility as flexible and comfortable as possible for every customer. A city in which all types of mobility are adapted to the customer's wishes

Daimler Mobility and the BMW Group joined forces in February 2019.

iPhone, Lewis Hamilton and George W. Bush

When a young team from Daimler AG looked to the future in autumn 2007, the iPhone was only a few months old. Lewis Hamilton drove his first Formula 1 season and the US president's name was George W. Bush. An episode that almost ten years later looks as if it was already epochs ago. Nobody talked about future players like Uber, Didi or Lyft.

Supposedly crazy ideas that arose over coffee and beer, resulted in over 80 million customers. From bold concepts and investments, FREE NOW alone generated platofrm sales of 2 billion € in 2019. Former improvised offices and attic apartments today are 1,300 cities around the world that offer a new experience of mobility.

The five Joint Ventures between
Daimler Mobility and BMW Group

  • Established: 2019
  • Headquarter: Berlin, Germany
  • Products: Taxi and ride hailing app
  • Brands: Beat (2011), clever, kaptn_, mytaxi (2009)
  • Website: your-now.com/free-now

FREE NOW (formerly mytaxi) is one of Europe's leading mobility providers. Founded in 2009 as the first taxi app to connect passengers and taxi drivers directly, FREE NOW is now available in more than 100 cities with more than 100,000 drivers. More than 14 million customers regularly use FREE NOW to get from A to B stress-free. With more than 750 employees from 68 countries, FREE NOW is active in 26 European offices. The CEO of FREE NOW Europe is Eckart Diepenhorst. FREE NOW is part of the mobility joint venture between the BMW Group and Daimler AG.

  • Established: 2019
  • Headquarter: Berlin, Germany
  • Products: Mobility-as-a-Service-App
  • Brands: moovel (2013) , ReachNow (2016)
  • Website: your-now.com/reach-now

The moovel Group - one of the five mobility joint ventures of the BMW Group and Daimler AG - is expected to be renamed REACH NOW Group GmbH in the future. REACH NOW offers multimodal experiences for millions of people around the world. The Mobility-as-a-Service pioneer provides access to various mobility options as well as mobile ticketing. The services are offered in 22 cities and are currently used by 7.5 million people.

In the first two quarters of 2019, 16.4 million transactions were processed through moovel's apps. The aim of the new company REACH NOW is to become the leading MaaS platform. Mobility-as-a-Service stands for the bundling of different types of passenger transport, such as bus and train, car sharing, ride-hailing and bike sharing and e-scooters in one app. Booking and payment is conveniently made via an integrated customer account.

  • Established: 2019
  • Headquarter: Berlin, Germany
  • Products: Free-floating Car sharing
  • Brands: car2go (2008), DriveNow (2011)
  • Website: your-now.com/share-now

Rent a car anywhere, anytime - this is SHARE NOW. As the market leader and pioneer of free-floating car sharing, SHARE NOW is represented in 30 metropolises around the world with more than 20,000 vehicles, 3,200 of which are electric. From registration to the rental process, everything works digitally via a smartphone app. More than four million customers are already using this offer. SHARE NOW offers a sustainable solution for urban mobility and, as part of the mobility offer, makes a significant contribution to reducing traffic congestion in cities: Each car-sharing car replaces up to eight private vehicles in urban traffic and is used up to six times more frequently at the same time. In this way, old private cars are consistently replaced by low-emission and electric car-sharing vehicles.

SHARE NOW operates all-electric fleets at four European locations and is the largest provider of electromobile station-independent car sharing with a total of 13 semi-electric locations. Today, the car-sharing provider is available in Europe and North America with vehicles from the BMW, Mercedes-Benz, MINI and smart brands and is expanding its market leadership in free-floating car sharing. SHARE NOW is one of a total of five mobility services that emerge from the joint venture between the BMW Group and Daimler AG, which was founded in 2019.

  • Founded: 2019
  • Established: Berlin, Germany
  • Products: Mobile payment for paid parking and car parks
  • Brands: Park-line, ParkMobile, Parkmobile, ParkNow (2000)
  • Website: your-now.com/park-now

PARK NOW is part of the mobility joint venture between the BMW Group and Daimler AG and is one of the five most important urban mobility solutions in the world with SHARE NOW, REACH NOW, FREE NOW and CHARGE NOW. PARK NOW is the first provider of a complete digital solution for roadside parking as well as in car parks in Germany and Austria. PARK NOW is already available in more than 150 cities and continuously expands its network of cooperation partners and cities.

  • Established: 2019
  • Headquarter: Berlin, Germany
  • Products: Charging network for electric cars
  • Brands: ChargeNow (2012)
  • Website: your-now.com/charge-now

CHARGE NOW is a service of Digital Charging Solutions GmbH and contributes significantly to the mobility transition towards emission-free driving with a nationwide charging infrastructure. CHARGE NOW enables electric vehicle drivers to easily and conveniently find, use and pay for electric vehicle charging stations at home and abroad. Digital Charging Solutions GmbH develops solutions for the simple and uniform use of public charging stations for car manufacturers and fleet operators. With more than 100,000 charging points in 25 countries, these "white label solutions" help OEMs and fleet operators to realize their electromobility strategies. Customers benefit from unlimited access to one of the world's largest and fastest growing public charging networks, with more than 250 charging station operators today.

September 2007: Predicting the future, inventing the future

  • In the future, individual mobility will go beyond owning a car.
  • Flexibility and almost unconditional availability are the decisive buzzwords for services in the 21st century
  • The smartphone will be the perfect anchor point to control these services

*Status: December 2019

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