Volkswagen is launching a new business that will focus on the growing area of urban mobility such as on-demand travel and electric cars.
Moia will operate as an independent company within the German car group based in Berlin and will "act more nimbly, like a startup" but with access to the expertise and funding of a corporate, said Ole Harms, VW’s executive director for new business and mobility who will head up the new business.
The launch, announced on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt tech conference in London, comes amid change in the habits of how people travel with the rise of on-demand platforms and other technologies which threaten individual car ownership.
Harms showed a fleet of on-demand shuttles to complement public transport systems as an example and said in the mid-term, it wants to bring end-to-end services to urban citizens.
“Mobility is a brand new category and we’re approaching this in a totally new way,” he said. Moia will start with a team of 50 with ambitious plans to grow next year and will also focus on Hamburg, where it signed a partnership with the city to work on solutions for traffic problems such as safety and pollution.
Harms outlined a “buy and build strategy” for Moia that will include investments in and partnerships with startups.
The move beyond cars and into mobility follows a $300m investment in Uber rival Gett and ambitious strategy for the scandal-hit automaker outlined by new chief executive Matthias Mueller earlier this year.
At the same time Gett also announced it will launch a carpooling service in London, offering people black cab rides for the price of a Tube fair to people willing to share with others heading in the same direction.