Volkswagen has launched a new standalone company called Moia that will focus on creating transport mobility services, including fleet-based shuttle services, carpooling and eventually autonomous vehicles.
Moia will develop on-demand shuttle services to compliment public transport systems. Announcing the launch of the company at TechCruch Disrupt in London on Monday 5 December, Moia CEO Ole Harms said there was a "steep, increasing need" for new mobility solutions that would "give cities their space back".
Harms said the primarily focus was to create sustainable, electric shuttle vehicles that would help make cities cleaner and quieter, while also making urban mobility more evenly-distributed. He likened such mobility solutions as the "lifeblood" of cities, with the idea being that Moia would help them flow more smoothly.
The new company will operate independently from Volkswagen and will own everything from customer services, interfaces and vehicles end-to-end. However, it will also act as an open platform by allowing anyone to develop for it, right down to vehicle designs. To that end, Ole said Volkswagen would increase investment in start-up companies working in the field of transportation.
"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 Harms. "Our sights are set on becoming one of the global top players for mobility services in the medium term. To achieve that we will be seeking to attract the best minds and technology start-ups."
Moia will be headquartered in Berlin, with the company initially focusing on growing itself in Europe before expanding to the US and China. The company plans to launch its on-demand pooling services via app, with the first pilot projects scheduled to begin in 2017. It may also leverage Volkswagen's stake in ride-hailing app Gett – which today launched a carpooling service to rival Uber Pool – to ensure it can fulfil pickup requests during peak times.
Matthias Müller, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, said: "Moia will help us gain a deeper understanding of new forms of mobility and how to make them even more attractive in future, to offer a much broader scope than at present and to tailor these services to suit very wide-ranging needs.
"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."