This article was first published by The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
Mercedes-Benz Vans said Monday it was expanding its collaboration with Israeli-founded US startup Via to enter the ride-sharing market and to introduce on-demand shared rides to the European market.
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Via has developed an on-demand ride-sharing service: its mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to share a vehicle. In the joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, passengers headed in the same direction will be matched with a single van, increasing vehicle utilization while relieving the strain on inner-city roads.
London will be the first city to launch the new joint service this year. Other European metropolises will soon follow, Mercedes’ parent company Daimler AG said in a statement. Via, which has been working with Daimler since 2015, plans to raise a total of $200 million for the joint expansion, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the process.
First launched in New York City in September 2013, and founded by Israelis Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, the Via platform currently operates in New York City, Chicago, and Washington DC, providing over a million rides per month. Via also licenses its on demand transit technology to transportation operators globally.
“The fusion of Via’s technology with the engineering of Mercedes-Benz Vans creates the perfect match for efficient, affordable and sustainable ride-sharing,” Daimler said in a statement.
As part of the cooperation, Mercedes-Benz Vans is initially investing $50 million US dollars in the new joint venture, while Daimler Mobility Services is additionally joining in as a strategic investor in Via. Mercedes-Benz Vans will be joining Via’s board of directors.
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Photos: Via, Andrew Ruiz