It’ll hit Hamburg first, and then the world.
German conglomerate Volkswagen appears to have the legs as far as ride-sharing services is concerned, because while companies like Waymo and Lyft are still working on vehicular prototypes for the future, VW has something in the here and now. The MOIA EV is a 7-seater (6 passengers and a driver) minivan, as it were, that helps to outline just how serious the Volkswagen Group is about tackling the ride-sharing market.
The MOIA EV, designed from the outset as a shared vehicle, comes with far more niceties than the black car you can summon via an app today. It has individual seats, WiFi, charging ports and ambient LED lights for example, as well as a low floor for easy ingress and egress and a more comfortable and focused drivers’ cabin (it’s not driverless just yet, though its in the pipeline).
“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.” — Ole Harms, CEO, MOIA
The MOIA EV is, as its name suggests, an electric vehicle. It has a 300km electric range, and is capable of being charged from flat to 80% in as little as 30-minutes. Naturally, operation is near-silent, and because of its electric powertrain, MOIA revealed to the media at its launch that it was entirely capable of eeking a profit even with a driver in the equation. And with MOIA, they have set a goal to take some 1-million cars off the street by 2025.
One of the things we quite like about MOIA is the pricing, or rather, the reasoning behind its pricing strategy. While it will undercut competitors like Uber and Lyft (and conventional cabs, naturally), it won’t threaten the existing public transport system. And the reason for this was detailed in an interview with Tech Crunch.
“We don’t want to get below the public transport system because then, we would take people who are already pooled in a bigger vessel, into a smaller one.” — Ole Harms, CEO, MOIA
The MOIA EV took just 10-months to design and build, using the frame of a Volkswagen Transporter (though very little of the donor car can be found here). At its debut in Berlin, the MOIA EV is actually fully-functional, despite being dubbed a concept, and says a lot about VW’s commitment to taking a slice out of the ridesharing space for itself.
To increase the efficiency of the service, MOIA has an algorithm that allows the EV to maximise efficiency along its routes by grouping passengers together (hence, ride-pooling). And to further push that efficiency, MOIA assigns ‘virtual bus stops’ every 200-250 metres in the municipalities it operates in.
MOIA will be hitting the streets in Hamburg, Germany by next year, with some 200 MOIA vans to be rolled out. European launch is then slated for the end of 2018 or early 2019, while MOIA in the US will come online in 2025. Ahead of the big rollout, MOIA has devised multiple strategies to deploy and operate to help it confirm with the various partners and cities it intends to work with, ensuring smooth running on arrival.
While there are various carmakers and private concerns that are trying to muscle in on the ride-sharing space, it’s remarkable that MOIA’s solutions are not only very near-term but also very realistic, without an overemphasis on not-quite-perfect technologies like autonomous piloting and so on. Of course, it’s still a bit of a stretch at this point, and we have little doubt that MOIA will still have hurdles ahead of it. But with the might of the Volkswagen Group and their seemingly friendly and cooperative corporate attitude, it looks like MOIA might just take over the world.
Stay tuned to CarShowroom as we bring you more updates as they come.