Mercedes-Benz is joining forces with US start-up Via to launch a joint venture ride-sharing shuttle service set to bow in London before the year-end. Via already operates on-demand shuttle transport offerings providing over 1 million rides per month in New York Chicago and Washington DC, and the JV partners say they are looking to ally with public transit operators across Europe with their new initiative.
Using the Via intelligent shared rides system, passengers heading in the same direction are matched with a single van to boost vehicle utilisation and relieve the strain on inner-city roads. Users are charged a flat rate $5 for the service.
The venture will not only launch its own European service, but will also look license Via’s proprietary technology to third parties, such as transport service providers and local public transit operators.
Mercedes-Benz Vans is pumping $50 million into the new partnership, while Daimler Mobility Services is also joining the venture as a strategic investor in Via. The latter’s shtick is that it is ‘re-engineering public transit’, looking to move from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a ‘fully dynamic’, on-demand network.
For Daimler, the move is certainly about building out its mobility solutions.
"With our mobility services like car2go, mytaxi and moovel we are already today reaching more than 15 million customers worldwide,” says Klaus Entenmann, chairman of the board at Daimler Financial Services. "We are thus further expanding our digital mobility services. We have the financial resources that are required for this growth path."
For that deeper dive:
Peer-to-peer car-sharing firm Snappcar acquires Germany’s Tamyca car-share outfit – The Guardian
Smart unveils Smart Vision EQ ForTwo: a fully electric, fully autonomous vehicle designed exclusively for car sharing – Auto Express