Mercedes debuts Croove, its own car-sharing network
Croove is pure peer-to-peer local rental cars model, where tenants how to use software to make choices about what model, trim level and other options they're looking for in a car. The iphone app will poll its database of registered fans in the area and find away what's available for the time and duration need by the renter, and hook up the dots. Mercedes isn't limiting what type of cars can land on the platform - is actually accessible to all makes of cars, with the restriction being the car is in good condition, and isn't older than 12-15 years.
Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler motor company is not a new person to car sharing; the company owns and functions Car2Go, a shared vehicle platform where it offers a fleet of Wise and Mercedes vehicles to members who use them on an as-needed most basic and pay only for the time they drive. This is a very different approach, however, and notable for being auto maker agnostic.
Typically you'd expect carmakers to actually want to use a service like this to advertise it is own vehicles, and indeed that's how they've procedure services like Zipcar in the past - as a showroom or test ride opportunity for everyday drivers who might think about a purchase later on. GM's Maven has that as one of its specific service goals, in simple fact.
Croove is much more like its independent rivals, however; Turo, which just launched in the UK, does the same thing, connecting car owners with renters regardless of vehicle type, and more like easyCar Club in Europe are doing the same.
The decision to open up the platform might just be about making sure Mercedes-Benz can accrue enough data about the preliminary to guage whether this is an acceptible effort for expansion having an own cars, but it's more likely that the carmaker is not treating this generally as lead-generation for vehicle sales. Instead, like other automotive makers making more dangerous investments in alternative transportation models, Mercedes appears to be focused more on what comes next for automakers when selling autos to people might not be their primary business.
Car sharing also becomes something that Mercedes-Benz and other carmakers can use as a purchase bonus, however - almost like another solution form of auto financing, which is often used to help defray the expense of ownership. Actually if Croove is available to all vehicles, it would be relatively easy for Mercedes to put it to use as a sales push by showing how much any vehicle buyer could probably earn back towards their lease or finance obligations by also renting their car out occasionally on system.