Mercedes-Benz to rival Uber with new London ride share service
Mercedes-Benz is to launch a new Uber-rivalling ride sharing service in Europe, kicking off with London.
The joint venture with US technology start-up Via – which already operates ride sharing schemes in Chicago, New York and Washington – will offer on-demand shuttle services using the Mercedes-Benz nine-seater Vito Tourer and the eight-seater V-Class, which replaced the Viano MPV in 2015 integrated with Via’s software with on-board vehicle sensors. In the longer term, the cooperation will look to deploy electric vehicles and autonomous driving capabilities.
The Via technology will enable passengers to hail a ride using an app and will match them up with passengers headed in the same direction.
The joint venture – headquartered in Amsterdam – will also license the Via ride sharing technology to third parties, such as transport service providers and local public transit operators.
Mercedes-Benz already runs a ride sharing programme with Via in Orange County, California and the new cooperation will see the carmaker invest US$5m (€46m) in the joint venture while Daimler Mobility Services additionally joins in as a strategic investor in Via.
“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,” said 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.”