Daimler AG and BMW AG are withdrawing their joint car-sharing service from North America and halting service in three European cities, citing rising costs and low ridership.
The pullout represents a major setback for the German companies’ ambitions to compete globally with the likes ride-hailing giants Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. Their retreat following a 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) investment announced in February is only the latest by carmakers that have had a harder time building new mobility services than they bargained for.
The car-sharing venture -- branded Share Now after a merger of Daimler’s Car2Go and BMW’s DriveNow units -- will cease operations in Brussels, London and Florence next year and wind down its remaining business in the U.S. and Canada, according to a statement Wednesday. General Motors Co. scaled back a similar service in April, while Ford Motor Co. shut down one mobility unit in March and another earlier this month.
Carmakers aren’t alone in struggling to figure out how to profitably move people around. Uber and Lyft both have had trouble making money despite being much larger than Share Now and others.
Share Now has been paring back its North American business for months. The service suspended operations in Chicago in April after losing at least 75 vehicles to thieves who took advantage of looser background checks. It announced plans in October to pull out of Austin, Calgary, Denver and Portland. That left it with a presence in just five North American cities: Montreal, New York, Seattle, Vancouver and Washington. It will leave the remaining locations by Feb. 29.
“Moving forward, Share Now will focus on the remaining 18 European cities," the company said in its statement. “We, along with our shareholders, believe these markets show the clearest potential for profitable growth and mobility innovation."