Frenemies: BMW, Mercedes Prepare ‘Jurbey’ Joint Mobility Service

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BMW and Daimler (parent of Mercedes-Benz), are preparing to launch a joint automotive, or mobility, venture this winter called Jurbey. It will be a Berlin-based operation that offers car-sharing and ride-hailing services, among others. It may be announced as early as February. EU approvals appear to be in hand, a building with a long-term lease is nearly finished, and employees of the two companies whose turf is threatened are being coaxed to get with the plan.

Whether this is anti-competitive is a matter of opinion more than law. The EU already blessed the union. And the two companies already work together on developing components that aren’t considered crucial to the essence of each company.

Jurbey: not to be confused with Furby.

Details of the JV were first reported last week by The Drive. According to the story, there will be six segments where BMW and Daimler cooperate. Several of the companies apparently were registered on a PC with a broken caps key.

  • Ride-hailing (a la Uber), through Beat, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi, and mytaxi.
  • Car sharing, through existing companies car2go and DriveNow.
  • Parking, through ParkMobile and ParkNow.
  • Charging, through ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions.
  • Miscellaneous on-demand mobility services, including Moovel (comparisons of services based on cost and time to destination) and ReachNow (BMW car sharing of BMWs and Minis).
  • Jurbey itself, as the headquarters operation that coordinates the other five components.

But wait. There’s more. The German trademark for “Jurbey” was registered in November, The Drive reports, and the filing says the Jurbey services might also include software (for parking, energy supply and distribution, and transportation services info); arranging contracts (for rentals, parking, and trip planning); insurance; loans and financial services; gas stations for fueling, repair, maintenance, and charging; and online access to data for the various services.

While the formal announcement has yet to be made, the companies have pre-announced that the HQ will be in tech-focused Berlin. Reportedly some employees of the two companies who planned to continue on in Munich (BMW) and Stuttgart (Mercedes) have been told to make plans to become Berliners, for the greater good of the new JV. Berlin has become one of Europe’s most exciting cities, along with old standbys Paris, Rome, and Barcelona (Spain’s Silicon Valley). In the past, Munich has been the city most Germans would opt to live in if they had the choice.

Apparently, earlier plans to maintain Jurbey satellite or liaison offices back in Munich and Stuttgart have been scaled back, whether for the sake of efficiency or to keep turf feuds to a minimum.

While Jurbey was registered in Germany, it appears to be aimed at the EU, which gave Jurbey its approval. Whether the operation would cross the Atlantic and come to the Americas is not part of the current planning. But the two could bring the concept to the Americas and work with mobility service providers better entrenched in the New World.

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