Daimler brings ride-sharing platform to Europe with its vans division

05 September 2017

05 September 2017 Mercedes-Benz Vans is entering the ride-sharing sector, setting up a joint venture with US start-up company Via and bringing the scheme to Europe. The initial services will be launched in London, UK, before being rolled out to further European cities. Via is based in Amsterdam and has been working with Daimler since 2015. The company plans to raise $200 million (€168 million) for the expansion, with the German manufacturer, under its commercial vehicle brand, contributing $50 million (€42 million) to the new partnership. The Via service works by connecting multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to share a vehicle. It was first offered in New York in 2013. Users request a shared ride through an app, and an algorithm finds a suitable vehicle headed in the same direction, reducing detours. ′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.’ Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via, adds: ′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.’ Carmakers are increasing investments in partnerships with companies offering new services as consumers show less interest in owning a car. Toyota Motor last month invested in Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing operator, a year after it bought a small stake in Uber. 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. 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. The partnership will also see the companies working together in other areas, including optimising 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.