Daimler buys smartphone apps but seeks to avoid Uber upset

FRANKFURT Wed Sep 3, 2014 11:44am EDT

The logo of Mercedes Benz is seen on top of a car factory against the background of an overcast sky in the central Hungarian town of Kecskemet, 90 km (56 miles) south of Budapest January 25, 2013.  REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh

The logo of Mercedes Benz is seen on top of a car factory against the background of an overcast sky in the central Hungarian town of Kecskemet, 90 km (56 miles) south of Budapest January 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler on Wednesday said it had bought mytaxi and RideScout, two smartphone applications that will help the maker of Mercedes-Benz limousines provide services to people who do not own cars.

Daimler emphasized the acquisitions would not disrupt the existing taxi industry, a large client base for Mercedes-Benz, and sought to avoid the controversy caused by U.S.-based online chauffeur service Uber.

The San Francisco-based firm offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal gray area of rules governing commercial transportation.

Daimler, through its subsidiary moovel GmbH, bought Hamburg-based mytaxi, an app that allows customers to hail a cab, track its progress, rate the service, and pay for the ride using a smartphone.

Robert Henrich, CEO at moovel GmbH, said: "The acquisition of mytaxi and our existing holding in Blacklane, the rapidly growing limousine booking service, is by no means an attack on established taxi operators."

Moovel would instead seek to work in close partnership with taxi businesses, Henrich said. The pledge was welcomed by BZP, the German association of taxi services and rental car agencies.

Daimler also bought RideScout, based in Austin in the United States, which helps customers find the best way of reaching a destination using both public and private transport options, as well as car-sharing services.

Moovel GmbH already owns car2go, a car-sharing service with more than 850,000 customers, and Park2gether, a service which seeks to match those looking for a parking space with empty parking spaces.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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