LONDON -- Volkswagen Group will challenge ride-hailing company Uber with a new mobility services brand called Moia that eventually will have its own electric passenger vehicle.
Establishing Moia, the group’s 13th brand, is part of VW Group’s aggressive push into electric vehicles and new technology services as it emerges from its diesel emissions scandal.
VW announced the Moia name for the new brand at a technology event here today. The aim is for Moia to be one of the top three mobility services in 10 years, its CEO, Ole Harms said.
Moia will leverage its investment earlier this year in ride-hailing application Gett and make other investments and alliances, Harms said. VW said in May that it had formed a strategic partnership with Gett, an on-demand mobility company.
"We are still moving around our cities like we did 20 or 30 years ago," Harms said. "We need to offer new forms of transportation and really improve the traffic situation."
Harms said Moia’s focus is to launch an agile shuttle service operating in between scheduled buses and ride-hailing services such Uber. Shuttles will be hailed by a smartphone app and shared between users. Harms said he wanted prices to be similar to buses.
Initially Moia’s fleets will use existing VW Group models such as the VW Transporter minibus but they will be eventually replaced by a new electric vehicle with six to eight seats, likely built on the automaker’s MEB electric platform.
A concept of the vehicle could be shown as early as next year, Harms said. The project is being led by VW commercial vehicles division.
Moia’s new vehicle will be capable of autonomous driving, and driverless cars will be a big part of the brand’s services as the technology becomes more widespread, Harms said. He wants to trial autonomous prototypes in Moia fleets by 2019. "By 2021 definitely see a couple of cities worldwide operating autonomous fleets," Harms said.
Automakers will be better placed to become mobility providers as the demands on early movers such as Uber increase, Harms said. "Tech companies need to operate as a fleet. Now they are asset light, but they will become asset-heavy," he said.
VW has provided funding for Moia in the “three-figure millions” of euros for the next one to two years, Harms said. Moia will also seek outside funding to help it grow. The brand is based in Berlin and currently has 50 employees but that will rise to 200 by the end of next year.
Harm said he aimed for revenue “in the region of a couple of billions” in two to four years. He said the brand’s biggest markets will be Europe, the U.S and China.
Besides leveraging VW’s investment in Gett, Moia will make other investments and alliances, Harms said.
The name Moia was derived from the Sanskrit word "maya," meaning magic.
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