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Bosch buys U.S. start-up to expand connected-drive ops

BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Germany's Robert Bosch said it has acquired a carpooling start-up in the United States and created a new digital unit to further its expansion into data-based mobility services.

Privately-held Bosch has purchased Detroit-based Splitting Fares Inc (SPLT), which offers carpooling services to about 140,000 users in the United States, Mexico and Germany, Chief Executive Volkmar Denner said at a conference on Wednesday, without disclosing financial details of the transaction.

Bosch is expanding beyond its traditional business of providing components such as spark plugs for combustion engines and into areas such as software, services, Internet-connected devices and electric cars.

"The future lies in the internet, especially the future of mobility," Denner said.

Bosch said it has created a new business division for its connected mobility solutions employing more than 600 staff at five sites in Germany and China.

The sales potential for data-based mobility services may triple to 140 billion euros ($172.48 billion) by 2022 from 47 billion last year, according to Bosch. The company is targeting significant double-digit percentage growth in the segment, Denner said, without being more specific.

Bosch delivers advanced safety systems to the world's biggest automotive groups and start-up carmakers. It developed the electric powertrain and steering for Google's prototype autonomous vehicle and is a supplier of driver assistance systems to Tesla. ($1 = 0.8117 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan)