Daimler buys German ride-sharing service flinc

FRANKFURT/Berlin (Reuters) - Daimler DAIGn.DE has acquired German ride-sharing firm flinc for an undisclosed amount as the carmaker expands its focus on customers who prefer to pay to use rather than to own a vehicle.

Daimler and BMW BMWG.DE have been discussing pooling their German car-sharing businesses car2Go and DriveNow, to better compete against online taxi-hailing firms like Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft which have also started offering car drivers pay-per-use services that are more convenient than owning a car.

On Wednesday the Stuttgart-based manufacturer said it bought flinc, a provider of door-to-door ride-sharing services with about 500,000 customers using its website.

The market for ride-hailing services currently makes up around 33 percent of the global taxi market, and could grow eightfold to $285 billion by 2030, once autonomous robotaxis are in operation, Goldman Sachs has said.

“With flinc, we are taking on an extremely well-coordinated team that brings valuable experience in the field of short-distance ride-sharing,” said Joerg Lamparter, head of Daimler Mobility Services.

A spokeswoman at Daimler declined to comment on the value of the transaction. German rail company Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] and GM's GM.N Ventures division had previously held stakes in flinc.

About 15 million customers in more than 100 cities in Europe, North America and China are registered with Daimler’s various “mobility services”, including its taxi hailing and transportation services apps Mytaxi and Moovel and car-sharing service car2go.

Meanwhile demand for car-sharing has taken off in a number of major cities including London, Frankfurt, Berlin, Milan and Helsinki, where customers can use free parking and avoid the other costs of car ownership.

Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Ludwig Burger; Editing by Susan Fenton, Greg Mahlich