VW Launches Moia Mobility Service As Uber Alternative

Volkswagen AG launched its Moia brand yesterday saying it expects it to become one of the three largest global mobility providers.

The new subsidiary will initially offer electric ride-hailing and carsharing services, to compete with companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar. Electric shuttles will likely be the first fleet vehicles rolled out to customers and they’ll soon be automated, according to the company.

Moia will open up in two European cities next year before likely expanding to other markets. Along with fast becoming a top mobility service company, the startup will generate “a couple of billion” euros in revenue in a few years, Ole Harms, head of Moia, told reporters.

Volkswagen is counting on new revenue channels like Moia making up for lost diesel car sales and hefty fines and settlements from the emissions scandal. VW aims to reinvent its image as a mobility service, electrified, autonomous vehicle leader in the global auto industry.

The photo above shows Moia’s CEO Harms standing with Matthias Mueller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group. Harms had served VW as executive director and head of New Business and Mobility Services.

“We’re a startup with VW group’s resources and we have a global aspiration,” Harms said ahead of the unit’s official unveiling Monday.

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Harms’ bio statement on the company website describes the startup division’s market identity: “I absolutely hate traffic jams and wasted life time. So I am motivated to develop on-demand transport solutions that make cities more fluid, less congested and safer places.”

Harms said the startup’s focus is to launch an innovative shuttle service operating in between scheduled buses and ride-hailing services similar to Uber. Shuttles rides will be hailed by a smartphone app and shared between users.

Moia will start by using existing Volkswagen vehicles including the VW Transporter minibus. These shuttles will eventually be replaced by a new electric vehicle with six to eight seats, according to the company.

A concept vehicle may be shown as early as next year, he said.

Moia’s new vehicle will be capable of autonomous driving. Fully autonomous vehicles will be part of the subbrand’s services once automated systems become more widespread, Harms said. The company is targeting 2019 to launch trial programs for autonomous vehicle prototypes in Moia fleets.

The brand’s services may eventually expand to the U.S., China or Latin America.

Moia will be part of Volkswagen’s strategy to establish a platform dubbed “We,” offering a range of services that could be used by 80 million customers by 2025.

VW started its mobility service move in May when announcing a $300 million investment in ride-hailing provider Gett Inc.

Another VW company, Audi, offers carsharing in San Francisco and Hong Kong. Next year, Audi plans to demonstrate its first self-driving series car that’s capable of driving itself at speeds of up to 60 kilometers (40 miles) per hour.

Moia, based in Berlin, will have about 200 employees by the end of next year compared with 50 now, Harms said.

Bloomberg


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