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Auto Industry

Daimler bets on smart mobility with myTaxi app

German carmaker Daimler has announced it is buying taxi app myTaxi. The move suggests the Mercedes maker is looking to adjust to a future with fewer privately owned cars and more flexible transport options.

The thrill of buying a new car seems to be wearing off. Over the longer term, the automotive sector is facing the problem that fewer and fewer young people are choosing to buy a new car.

Last year, only 27 percent of new car buyers were under 45 years old, figures from the CAR Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen suggest. Interest in car ownership is especially waning in larger cities.

German automotive giant Daimler is still profitable - but it is now trying to head off this trend by following another one. Its Moovel subsidiary is buying Intelligent Apps GmbH of Hamburg. The firm operates myTaxi, a taxi smartphone app that brings allows customers to contact taxi drivers directly. A purchase price for the 100-percent acquisition was not disclosed.

Moovel will not be a second Uber

The taxi industry believes the Daimler takeover will put further pressure on taxi companies. Daimler is a "financially strong competitor," German Taxi and Car Rental Association (BZP) president Michael Müller said. But the association also sees the acquisition as a positive signal - as a commitment to "legal" passenger transport.

Unlike the controversial start-up Uber, which antagonized the taxi industry by allowing customers to hire unlicensed private drivers, Moovel aims at peaceful cooperation with established taxi call centers.

Moovel has held shares in myTaxi since 2012. The collaboration between the two companies has "developed very dynamically," Moovel CEO Robert Henrich told news agency DPA.

"Mobility will change radically in the future," he said, adding that the industry was at the beginning of a paradigm shift.

Mobility from a single source

MyTaxi will be integrated into the Moovel platform. The taxi service will be added to Moovel's supported transport options: long-distance rail, public transport in all German cities, carpooling, carsharing and bicycle rental.

The new business is now bringing Daimler significant revenues. Moovel CFO Marcus Spickermann says Moovel and Car2go, Daimler's car-sharing offer, will achieve revenues of 100 million euros ($131.5 million) by the end of the year.

jw/sgb/hg (dpa, Moovel)

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