NEW YORK — Two longtime rivals are sending a sharp message to technology giants in the auto industry by merging their mobility services.
By combining at least a dozen business lines into a 50-50 partnership, BMW Group and Daimler intend to become a mobility powerhouse.
The deal disclosed last week "sends a strong signal to our new competitors," BMW CEO Harald Krueger said in a statement. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche went further, saying, "As pioneers in automotive engineering, we will not leave the task of shaping future urban mobility to others."
Those competitors went unnamed, but companies such as Uber and Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, are clear targets. As consumers seek new transportation options, BMW and Daimler don't want to cede ground to these newer ventures.
"We think putting all our assets together in this will make us a leading player in the mobility area," said Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of BMW's board of management responsible for digital business innovation and other business areas. "And this is really the target. It's not to do a little bit here, a little bit there. We want to become the leading provider when it comes to mobility services."
The deal means brands such as Daimler's Car2Go and BMW's DriveNow will work in tandem. European and U.S. regulators must approve the agreement, and that could take several weeks to several months, Schwarzenbauer told reporters at the New York auto show. Financial terms were undisclosed.
The new company will include businesses in car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking and electric-vehicle charging. The joint venture will establish platforms for those four areas plus a fifth that links the first four together into one experience, Schwarzenbauer said.
The cooperation will allow for the offering of mobility services "at a level unheard of yet," Schwarzenbauer said.
"This means we are going to be able to offer to customers a really individual targeted mobility offering," he said. "It doesn't matter if you are just looking for parking, if you want to charge your electric car, if you want a trip that includes public transportation. We think to combine individual mobility and public to make this more seamless will help a lot in the cities to improve mobility."
Observers had expected a deal, but not one of such magnitude, said Shwetha Surender, industry principal at the research firm Frost & Sullivan.
"From the perspective of the car-sharing market, this makes perfect sense," Surender said in a statement. "Operating in an industry that is struggling to achieve profitability, it would allow them to gain economies of scale and tip the balance in their favor."
But Surender wondered whether ultracompetitive BMW and Daimler will "learn to play nicely within the same service ecosystem?"
Schwarzenbauer, who started at BMW 34 years ago and left before returning to the company, marveled at that rivalry even as he touted the pending cooperation.
"All my life, I saw Mercedes as the key competitor," he said. "Now, don't get us wrong: We still will be heavy competing with Mercedes around the world. From what I've learned over the last 30 years, this is also quite healthy for the companies involved because this keeps us pushing forward all the time."