Car maker Volkswagen Monday launched Moia, a standalone company that will focus on mobility that goes beyond individual vehicle ownership, Tech Crunch reports. Moia will exist under the VW brand umbrella, but instead of trying to sell cars to individuals, it will work on future forms of urban movement, like on-demand shuttle service and tech-driven ride-hailing.
Tech Crunch is calling it “one of the most aggressive and intentional moves made yet by a major automaker in terms of investing in urban transportation models that extend beyond individual ownership.”
In announcing the new company, CEO Ole Harms said that mobility is the “lifeblood” of the city, and that Moia would serve as a beating heart, keeping residents and systems flowing smoothly. Moia will be headquartered in Berlin, with another office in Hamburg, and have a goal to be active in two major European cities by the end of the year.
The first focus will be on-demand shuttle services, with small, multi-passenger electric vehicles that users will be able to summon via app. If users request a ride at a time when they would be the only passenger, Moia may outsource their request to other ride-hailing services.
Harms admitted that focusing on this type of mobility could ultimately decrease the need and demand for car ownership in cities. He also said Moia will aim to cost more than public transit but less than car ownership in terms of affordability, and does not seek to replace public transit. Ultimately, Moia’s ambitions could dovetail nicely with VW’s broader plan to develop autonomous vehicles.
All of this, of course, will require working with regulators and cities. Moia said it will use “legal” driver sources and not disobey existing regulation to build up its labor pool.
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.