A spokesperson for Volkswagen's financial division confirmed that Daimler would receive 20 percent of shares in the Mobility Trader Holding GmbH subsidiary which operates the "Heycar" digital market place for used vehicles, subject to approval by local antitrust regulators.
The price paid by Daimler for the stake in the Volkswagen start-up was not disclosed.
Franz Reiner, head of Europe for Daimler Financial Services, told press that his Stuttgart-based company viewed the move as a "strategic investment" in a fast-growing business. "Used vehicles are increasingly sold and financed online", Reiner said.
"Heycar" was founded by the Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen Group in 2017. "HeyCar" lists brands other than those owned by Volkswagen as well and currently lists between 200,000 and 300,000 vehicles for sale.
Christian Dahlheim, head of sales and marketing for Volkswagen Financial Services, emphasized on Thursday that "Heycar" was still open to further investors following Daimler's entry into the fray.
Like many other international industry representatives, German carmakers are increasingly seeking to diversify their business model in response to new technologies, stricter environmental regulations, and changing consumer behavior. Volkswagen recently announced that it would invest 3.5 billion euros (4.07 billion U.S. dollars) in a range of new digital automotive services towards that end.
Aside from its used vehicles platform, Volkswagen is planning to launch a "We Share" carsharing service with a purely-electric fleet of vehicles in Berlin at the start of the next year. The service is scheduled to be expanded to selected European and American metropolitan centers with more than one million inhabitants from 2020 onwards.
The company is hereby entering an increasingly-crowded carsharing market in Germany which is currently dominated by the Daimler and BMW subsidiaries Car2Go and DriveNow. In an earlier sign of automotive industry consolidation, Daimler and BMW have already agreed to a merger of their respective businesses in the sector.