Geely has gone from acquisitions to creating something with those firms it gathered in hand. Insiders told Bloomberg of a new joint venture in the making that would see Daimler and its 10%-stakeholder Geely set up a ride-hailing service in China, possibly using Denza EVs.
So far, no such joint venture has been confirmed officially but Bloomberg quotes people close to the matter saying that a 50:50 joint venture dealing with ride-hailing and carsharing is being discussed. The aim: to take on almighty Didi Chuxing in China’s growing market for shared electric vehicles.
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Neither Daimler nor Geely have commented on the matter but it makes sense on more than one level. Geely had acquired almost ten per cent in Daimler shares last February, thus becoming the company’s largest shareholder. Geely founder Li Shufu said on the occasion that he was “particularly pleased to accompany Daimler on its way to becoming the world’s leading electro-mobility provider.” Daimler, however, was not too pleased at first but doing business together in China could provide them with a much wanted stronger foothold. Moreover, the tone has changed lately with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche describing talks with Geely over possible projects as “very constructive” and “very promising so far” at the Paris auto show.
In turn, Daimler is a valuable partner for Geely. Other than Geely’s other acquisitions such as Volvo, Daimler has experience in sharing offers, most visibly the MyTaxi app or ViaVan and also Car2Go, merged with BMW’s DriveNow reportedly.
Update 24 October 2018: It is confirmed, Daimler and Geely indeed set up a 50/50 joint venture. It will have its headquarters in Hangzhou and offer premium mobility services in several Chinese cities. The fleet will initially include the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class, V-Class and Maybach models. Premium electric vehicles from the Geely Group may complement the fleet.
Update 22 May 2019: The 50/50 joint venture has confirmed its headquarters in Hangzhou and sticks to the initial plan to deploy the Mercedes S-Class, E-Class and V-Class models for the new car sharing services first. Only at a later date, premium electric vehicles from Geely will be added to the fleet as well. Whether the recent cooperation to build Smart electric cars together in China will be taken into consideration, i.e. for an urban car sharing model is pure speculation at this stage.