One year ago at TechCrunch Disrupt in London, Volkswagen launched a dedicated company focused on future mobility services called Moia. At this year's TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, the spin-off has unveiled its very first vehicle, an all-electric six-seater built for the ride-sharing age.
Ride-sharing services, such as Lyft and Uber, have the potential to massively reduce traffic congestion in urban centers. Earlier in the year, scientists at MIT devised a carpooling algorithm they say could see almost all of New York City's 14,000 famous yellow taxis replaced with just 3,000 ride-sharing vehicles, all without significantly impacting travel times.
Moia is hoping to put this theory into practice, with company CEO Ole Harms saying, "we've set ourselves the goal of taking more than a million cars off the roads in Europe and the USA by 2025."
Moia is working to implement a ride-pooling service by focusing on two key areas, at least for now. One is intelligent algorithms, which identifies passengers traveling to similar destinations, chooses the best possible route that both avoids detours and makes best use of its cars already on the road.
The other is working with partners to develop vehicle concepts that best fit the ride-sharing mold. The electric van unveiled at TechCrunch Disrupt today is the first fruit of that labor, and was developed over 10 months together with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Osnabrück.
With a range of more than 300 km (186 miles) on a single charge, the Moia vehicle can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in a little more than half an hour. Inside the spacious cabin there are a number of design elements to give it a distinct, carpool feel. These include a large display showing the route of the current "carpooling community", onboard Wi-Fi, luggage storage, USB charging ports in every seat, reading lamps and a long handrail to assist with ingress and egress.
Passengers can book a ride on Moia by entering their departure point and destination into the app. The algorithm then selects passengers traveling similar routes and the chauffeur follows the path set out for them by the app, all while generating zero emissions and minimal noise.
Moia has already carried out testing of the vehicle in Hannover, Germany, with 30,000 trips under its belt. It is planning to launch its ride-pooling service in Hamburg in 2018.
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