London’s black cabs already have massive competition from Uber, but soon they’ll face another threat – this time from Mercedes. Daimler, Mercedes’ parent brand, has announced a ride-sharing project that will take place in the capital.
The ride-sharing service is a joint project with Dutch startup Via, a company that already has around one million combined rides a month across other US cities. Now Via is going to expand into the rest of Europe, starting with London but planning to soon set up ride-sharing services in other European cities.
Via needs to raise around $200 million to fund its expansion, and it’s not yet clear how much Daimler will contribute to that. According to Bloomberg, Mercedes-Benz Vans will contribute $50 million to the new partnership, but no other details are known.
“On-demand ride-sharing offers many new ways of making city traffic efficient, needs-based and sustainable,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “Via is one of the most successful providers in the growing ride-sharing sector while Mercedes-Benz Vans has the perfect vehicles.”
Why is Daimler doing this?
Daimler is a car company, so its decision to develop a car-sharing service might seem odd, but it’s simply planning ahead. The future of transport is clearly leaning towards car-sharing or “usership” for several reasons.
Usership reduces the number of cars on the road – which is good for the environment and congestion – but it also reduces costs for pretty much everyone involved.
Mercedes can’t stop transport heading towards a usership model, but it can work at owning the usership sector, so that people end up riding in Mercedes cars anyway. After that, Daimler’s passengers may want to buy their own car – or subscribe to only Daimler and Via’s car-sharing service.