Whilst Uber and Grab reign supreme in the car ride-sharing market, Mercedes are betting on Via to provide another ride-sharing option through a USD$50 million investment. The van division of Daimler AG is setting up a joint venture with the US startup Via. Unlike Uber and Grab, Via focuses on on-demand shared ride solutions which both Uber and Grab also have.
Mercedes Vans would be the main contribution of the partnership where both parties contribute their technology advantages to create an efficient, affordable and sustainable ride-sharing. Headquartered in New York, Via’s successful shared ride service in New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. provides over 1 million rides per month, and its revolutionary technology is licensed by partners around the world.
Using a van as part of a shared ride service would definitely be more efficient as it can pick up more passengers who are going in the same direction. Still, it reminds me of the old mini buses which ran through the streets of KL, just that now we have the technology to get us these vans.
London will be the first city where this new joint venture will start their service.
“On-demand ride-sharing offers many new ways of making city traffic efficient, needs-based and sustainable – especially when it involves the use of spacious, safe and comfortable vans,” says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “Via is one of the most successful providers in the growing ride-sharing sector while Mercedes-Benz Vans has the perfect vehicles that are being continuously optimised for this job. By deepening our cooperation with Via, we are thus taking the next logical step in the context of our strategy for the future and are expanding our range of new mobility services.” The cooperation is another milestone of the adVANce strategy of Mercedes-Benz Vans focussing on the transformation from a vehicle manufacturer to a provider of holistic van system solutions.
The investment is part of the Daimler strategy focussing on pioneering innovations and digitization, especially in the four future fields of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use and services (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).
“With our mobility services like car2go, mytaxi and moovel we are already today reaching more than 15 million customers worldwide. As one of the leading providers of digital mobility services our investment in Via is a logical step to expand our portfolio according to our customers’ needs”, says Klaus Entenmann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler Financial Services AG. “We are thus further expanding our digital mobility services. We have the financial resources that are required for this growth path.”
“We are delighted to have the Daimler Group on board as an investor and strategic partner. Combining Via’s technology with the exceptional design and engineering of Mercedes-Benz Vans is ideal for our vision of offering efficient, affordable, sustainable, and comfortable shared rides everywhere,” says Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via.
“Having completed over 20 million rides, we at Via know that having the right vehicle is crucial for providing the best customer experience. We are excited to expand our successful partnership with Daimler, which began in 2015, and collaborate on developing the optimal vehicle for the future of mobility,” says Oren Shoval, CTO and co-founder of Via.
The models mainly used will be the Vito Tourer (up to nine seats) and the V-Class (up to eight seats) being continuously adapted for this intended use. Beyond developing advanced software and sensors, another focus of the long term strategic partnership lies on the use of the locally emission-free electric-drive Mercedes-Benz Vito and autonomous driving.
[Source: The Verge & Mercedes]