FRANKFURT -- Robert Bosch will launch an electric van-sharing service in Germany this year, expanding its reach in the field of pay-per-minute vehicle rental services and pitting it against some of its automaker clients.
Bosch said it will team up with toom, a subsidiary of German retailer Rewe, to supply delivery vans at hardware stores, enabling clients to rent a van to transport bulky purchases. The van-sharing service will initially be offered at hardware stores in Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Troisdorf, and Freiburg.
The vans will be provided by Deutsche Post startup StreetScooter, Bosch said. Bosch supplies the powertrain components for the vehicles. StreetScooter also has a partnership with Ford for larger vans based on the Transit.
"Bosch is growing with digital services for urban mobility. A service for sharing electric vans has huge potential for growth," Rainer Kallenbach, president of the Connected Mobility Solutions division at Bosch said in a statement.
Bosch already runs Coup, an electric scooter rental service, in Paris, Berlin and Madrid and the alliance with toom marks a further step into the market for on-demand vehicle rental services.
Bosch has shied away from competing against traditional automakers in areas such as vehicle manufacturing on fears it could alienate clients, such as Volkswagen and Ford, that buy its components and systems.
But with new rivals such as software company alphabet developing fully fledged self-driving vehicles, both auto suppliers and automakers are ramping up efforts to understand smartphone-based mobility as a prelude to managing fleets of robotaxis.
Self-driving cars will allow automakers and software companies to enter the ride-hailing business without having to pay drivers.
Bosch is already collaborating with Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler to develop self-driving cars.
IKEA said last month that it plans to introduce home delivery by electric vehicles in Europe, U.S. and China.