Volkswagen is moving into the evolving mobility services business with the creation of Moia, a Berlin-based company that will provide a range of ride services in urban markets, with an eye to becoming one of the world’s largest such service providers by 2025. The announcement follows similar steps by General Motors and Ford, suggesting ride-share leader Uber can expect tough competition from carmakers themselves in the years to come.
Moia begins operating January 1, initially with a staff of 50, and will expand rapidly, Volkswagen said in a statement issued as it announced the new initiative at a TechCrunch conference in London. Moia will focus on using environmentally friendly vehicles and will have access to products from across the Volkswagen Group’s 12-brand lineup.
«Even though not everyone will still own a car in future, Moia can help make everyone a customer of our company in some way or another,” said Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller.
The unit will provide a range of transportation options for riders, with an emphasis on creating a highly flexible service, and may also work with transit system operators. By 2025, Volkswagen expects the unit to be a major source of new business revenue.
“Moia is a stand-alone company under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, and will develop and market its own mobility services, either independently or in partnership with cities and existing transport systems,» said Ole Harms, tapped to be Moia’s first CEO. «Our sights are set on becoming one of the global top players for mobility services in the medium term.”
The success of Uber and rival Lyft in popularizing on-demand ride services has sparked a revolution in recent years, hurting traditional taxi business and reducing the need for some commuters to purchase their own vehicles. The expected arrival of self-driving autos in the next decade only accelerates those trends, as rides in robotic vehicles are expected to be much cheaper than those with humans behind the wheel. Should retail sales slip in the coming years, automakers are intent on making up for that by capturing a share of the fast-growing market for ride services.
With that in mind, General Motors purchased a stake in Lyft, bought San Francisco-based self-driving car tech startup Cruise Automation and is quickly expanding its Maven mobility brand. Ford planted its flag in the space with its Smart Mobility project, purchased on-demand van service Chariot and announced plans to put a self-driving vehicle into a rideshare service by 2021 — potentially its own.
Volkswagen previously invested in Gett, a leading European rideshare service, and Moia expands its commitment to the mobility business, the company said.
Uber’s had a remarkable run in recent years, powered by its unmatched data platform to connect riders and drivers. To hang on to its dominant spot in the mobility market, it’s going to have to prepare for new challenges from well-funded global competitors capable of creating vast fleets of purpose-built vehicles that satisfy a range of mobility demands.
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