Volkswagen has launched a standalone business called “MOAI” and is looking at a ride hailing apps and car pooling as a way to capture revenue from what it describes as mobility services.
MOAI was launched yesterday and will be based in Germany. A team of 50 will be based in Berlin, while an existing tie-up between Volkswagen and the city authorities in Hamburg will be used as a testing ground for its approach to sustainable urban transport.
Clearly the ride hailing/taxi app business takes MOAI into direct competition with Uber and others.
Earlier this year Volkswagen Group invested $300 million in Gett, the on-demand ride hailing app which is concentrated on major cities in the UK, Russia and Israel with New York its only presence in the US.
Gett also has a strong corporate travel footprint.
The connection between Gett and MOAI is mentioned in the announcement, with Volkswagen Group already providing Gett criers in Moscow with deals on vehicles. MOAI will be able to “harness the product strength and innovative power as well as the infrastructure of the other 12 group brands.”
Car-pooling is closer to the leisure travel sector than taxi app/ride hailing which is making waves in the corporate travel world. There are a number of well-funded car pooling brands in Europe – such as Blablacar which picked up a $200 million Series D over a year ago – which will be keeping an eye on how exactly MOAI will enter this space.
For now it looks as if MOAI is interested in connected commuting and on-demand car pooling, rather than the book in advance long-haul inter-city business. Pilot projects in this field are scheduled to begin in 2017.