Daimler Mobility Services has increased its push into the chauffeur sector by acquiring a majority stake in the largest French private hire company, Chauffeur Privé, for an unspecified sum.

As of now, Daimler Mobility Services now owns more than 50% of the operator, and said it would fully acquire Chauffeur Privé by 2019, subject to regulatory approval. The move gives Daimler Mobility Services an operational presence in 15 European markets.

The Chauffeur Privé takeover is part of Daimler’s CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services and Electric) strategy. Daimler Mobility Services handles the Shared & Services part of the plan, including the car2go car-sharing service and the mytaxi ride-hailing app.

“Daimler, with its financial strength, is poised to continue its transformation from a pure car manufacturer to a mobility services company as we pave the way to autonomous driving,” said Bodo Uebber, Daimler board member responsible for finance.

Chauffeur Privé was founded in 2011. With 18,000 drivers and more than 1.5m customers and, it is the leading provider of private hire vehicle services in France, with operations in Paris, Lyon and the Côte d’Azur.

In France, the market of private hire limousine services has grown significantly, from fewer than 1,000 drivers in 2011 to more than 30,000 drivers in 2017.