Volkswagen Group pulls the wraps off of its thirteenth subsidiary brand, specialising in mobility-on-demand services like ride-hailing and car-pooling, and aims to have its own purpose-built electric vehicles in the future.
The service, dubbed Moia, will be offering ride-hailing services in the short term, while car-pooling and shuttle services are in the pipeline, and will be rolled out once it successfully introduces its own specially-built, self-driving electric vehicles.
The Moia vehicle, called the SPV for now, will be built by one of the Volkswagen Group’s automotive manufacturers, and will feature badges of both companies. In all likelihood, we should see this car next year. Ole Harms, Moia’s CEO, said of the car, “It will be built to purpose, so you could think about special entrances, seating configurations, spaciousness, and an electric drivetrain.”
A report by Autocar speculates that the characteristics mentioned by Harms could see the Moia SPV resemble the Volkswagen Budd-E microbus concept car that was previewed earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The all-wheel drive concept car is tipped to hit production before the end of the decade, and will be based on VW Group’s new modular electric vehicle platform (MEB).
Harms said that Moia will “leverage all the strengths and capabilities of the Volkswagen Group and use all the technological advantages to make our services even better, even safer, and even more enjoyable. That’s probably one of the biggest assets that we have; We have all these engineers and all these plans that we could use to industrialise our services and bring them to market at scale.”
Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt symposium in East London, Harms detailed the functions and intentions of Moia and its business model. “Moia will develop and market its own mobility services either independently or in partnership with cities and existing transport systems. In the future, our electric fleet of cars and shuttles will create cleaner, quieter cities where traffic is not just reduced, but also more evenly distributed.”
Moia also plans to develop its own on-demand pooling shuttle services, coordinated via an app. They bill it as ‘connected commuting,’ aiming to optimise the use of existing infrastructure by reducing the number of vehicles travelling between the same points. The pilot phase for the ‘connected commuting’ project is scheduled to begin in late 2017.
Rather than undermine traditional public transport infrastructure, Moia sees itself bolstering existing services. “We see ourselves as a partner to cities, and we aim to complement their public transport systems.” Their goal is to be one of the top three mobility service providers by 2025, with their initial efforts and activities focused in Germany. Interestingly, the Volkswagen Group recently signed a three-year strategic mobility partnership with Hamburg to make urban mobility more environmentally friendly, safer, more reliable, and more efficient.
Harms is joined on the senior management team at Moia by chief financial officer Frank Dilger, and chief operating officer Robert Henrich. An advisory committee, chaired by Thomas Sedran of Volkswagen, will support the leadership team. The Moia family currently accounts for 50 people, but Harms predicts a four-fold expansion within a year.
For more information on Volkswagen’s existing passenger cars, check out our Showroom.