The mobility of the future is arriving in the present to an ever-higher degree. Bike sharing, car sharing, and carpooling have established themselves as well-functioning business models, mobile apps have become an integral part of local public transportation, the nationwide expansion of charging stations for electric cars is gaining momentum, and the first driverless trucks can be found on test tracks in public space.
Each of these developments is the result of different service providers interacting with each other. No company is competent enough on its own to offer a mobility concept from a single source. Even supposedly simple mobility solutions, as seen from a user’s point of view, usually conceal complex service relationships: A software company develops and maintains an app, another company provides the hardware (e.g., bicycles) and takes care of maintenance, a third company runs the bike-sharing service, and a fourth one handles payment. The structure gets even more complex where a single app combines different mobility offerings – such as bikes, cars, and rail.
Development and operation of such mobility solutions are usually based on bilateral or multilateral cooperation agreements, in which the partners’ respective performance obligations are described in detail and interlinked.
Joint ventures are a more extensive option, bundling cooperation in a legally independent JV company with the contractual partners as shareholders. Consequently, the content regulated by the underlying joint venture agreement far exceeds the content of a cooperation agreement, since it includes issues such as organizing and financing the JV company, handling IP rights, exit rights of the JV partners, and sanctions under corporate law in cases of non-compliance with performance obligations.
Particular issues arise in cooperation projects with municipalities or public institutions that are subject to various special provisions (e.g., public procurement law).
Any type of cooperation requires tailor-made contractual arrangements. As a rule, it will not only be necessary to reflect the status quo, but also to anticipate future (thus uncertain) developments (including future service contributions, financing requirements, additional partners). In view of the interdependence of the cooperation partners and the high financial importance of many joint ventures, solid contractual frameworks are prerequisites for the successful joint development and operation of mobility solutions.