BMW and Daimler’s Free Now mobility platform aims to achieve carbon neutrality in all key European markets by 2030 and is committing more than 100 million euros in resources over the next five years to the shift toward e-mobility.
As an interim goal, Free Now aims to offer at least 50 per cent all-electric journeys by 2025, and already 100 per cent in the UK, according to the release, as part of its ‘Move To Net-Zero’ program. By 2030, all of the mobility provider’s trips in Europe will then be electric. The UK wants to stop allowing new internal combustion vehicles from 2030, so Free Now aims to be faster than the political target.
Free Now came into being in 2019, when the Daimler Group and the BMW Group (each still under the leadership of Dieter Zetsche and Harald Krüger) merged their mobility services. Free Now is the former MyTaxi, a ride-hailer established in Europe and Latin America, which can be used to organise trips by cab, with private hire car drivers or electric scooters via an app. The two car-sharing services Car2Go and Drive Now were combined under the title Share Now. However, the now announced plan for climate neutrality is only about the ride-hailer Free Now, not about the car-sharing services.
According to the German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, Hamburg is planning a funding program to electrify its cab fleet. It is expected that the concept will be presented this month or in February depending on how Hamburg intends to support the approximately 2,000 cab companies in the acquisition of electric cars. But until that happens, Free Now is first launching its own subsidy program: “Starting in January, Free Now will pay Hamburg cab companies about 2,400 euros in subsidies for the purchase of an electric car,” Alexander Mönch, head of Germany for the mediation platform based in Hamburg, announced to the Hamburger Abendblatt in December. The prerequisite for the payout is that the new electric taxi is emblazoned with the Free Now logo.
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By October, the city of Hamburg, Free Now and other partners want to put around 100 electric taxis on the road. Concrete contents of the program have not yet been named, however; according to Free Now, initial talks are currently underway. In Hamburg, however, the service, which as mentioned belongs to Daimler and BMW, also procured 60 Tesla Model 3s a year ago. Importantly, the service is not procuring the Tesla BEVs on its own. “We remain a ride broker,” Free Now said.
In the “Move To Net-Zero” program, however, it’s not just internal combustion vehicles that will be replaced with electric vehicles. The company announced that in the future, the app will give preference to sustainable transportation when customers are looking for a way to get to their destination. Instead of suggesting a nearby driver with his car, the user will be shown e-bikes from Bond, electric scooters from Voi or electric mopeds from Emmy; if available and suitable for the route. In addition, public transport timetable information is to be displayed in the app; a pilot project has already been launched in Munich.
Free Now says it will offset all remaining emissions from 2020 that have not yet been avoided. The offsetting program focused, among other things, “on preserving and reforesting forests and planting 20,000 trees per year in many cities in Europe.”
“More and more people in Europe are demanding environmentally-friendly mobility options, so do companies, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend,” says Free Now CEO Marc Berg. “It is our clear goal to offer cleaner micromobility options and provide fully electric experiences for longer trips, plus to offset all remaining emissions in order to go fully green.” He said the program aims to make a “significant contribution to counteracting climate change.”
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.