FRANKFURT, Oct 9 (Reuters) - German auto supplier Bosch said on Tuesday it will launch a van-sharing service in Germany this year, expanding its reach in the field of pay-per-minute vehicle rental services and pitting it against some of its automaker clients.
The traditional pecking order between car manufacturers and their suppliers has been turned on its head with the emergence of smartphone-hailed rental technology, which allows clients to use vehicles by the minute without owning them.
Bosch said it will team up with toom, a subsidiary of German retailer REWE, to supply delivery vans at hardware stores, enabling clients to rent a van to transport bulky purchases.
“Bosch is growing with digital services for urban mobility. A service for sharing electric vans has huge potential for growth,” Rainer Kallenbach, president of the Connected Mobility Solutions division at Bosch said in a statement.
Bosch already runs Coup, an electric scooter rental service, in Paris, Berlin and Madrid and the alliance with toom marks a further step into the market for on-demand vehicle rental services.
Stuttgart-based Bosch has shied away from competing against traditional automakers in areas like vehicle manufacturing on fears it could alienate clients like Volkswagen and Ford which buy its components and systems.
But with new rivals like software company alphabet developing fully fledged self-driving vehicles, both auto suppliers and car manufacturers are ramping up efforts to understand smartphone-based mobility as a prelude to managing fleets of robotaxis.
Self-driving cars will allow carmakers and software companies to enter the ride-hailing business without having to pay drivers.
Bosch is already collaborating with Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler to develop self-driving cars. (Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)