Mercedes-Benz Vans is entering the ride-sharing sector. To this end, the Daimler AG has set up a joint venture with the US startup company Via. Via has enabled a dynamic mass transit system that reduces traffic volume in urban areas. The fusion of Via’s technology with the engineering of Mercedes-Benz Vans creates the perfect match for efficient, affordable and sustainable ride-sharing.
The Via vision: Dynamic routes, virtual bus stops
Via is changing the way people get around cities – from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. With Via’s intelligent shared rides, passengers headed in the same direction are matched with a single van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and Via’s sophisticated algorithm instantly finds a vehicle that best matches the passenger’s route, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without detours that take riders out of their way. By enabling vans to be dynamically routed between thousands of virtual bus stops distributed across the city, this innovative approach to public transit helps reduce traffic volume in cities without requiring the construction of costly new infrastructure.
Important step towards implementation of future strategy adVANce
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.
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.
The investment is part of the Daimler strategy “CASE” 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.
Long term strategic partnership
As part of the cooperation, Mercedes-Benz Vans is investing 50 million US dollars in the new joint venture. For Daimler Mobility Services, Volker Mornhinweg will be joining Via’s board of directors.
Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via have been successfully cooperating since 2015. The joint venture will operate as a new entity with headquarters in Amsterdam. Together, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via aim to introduce on-demand shared rides in Europe. London will be the first city to launch the new joint service this year. Other European metropolises will soon follow. The joint venture will not only launch its own service in European cities, but will also license Via’s proprietary technology - the On-Demand Shuttle Operating System - to third parties, such as transport service providers and local public transit operators.
The joint venture will in the future cooperate on the further development of intelligent mobility, including optimizing the design of Mercedes-Benz Vans vehicles for shared ride use. 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.