VW will launch company to challenge Uber, others
Volkswagen AG on Monday launched a new company to challenge Uber Technologies Inc. and other tech rivals, seeking to become a global force in the digital auto services that are threatening established carmakers.
The move marks the latest step by the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker to get past an emissions-cheating scandal that has cost the company nearly $20 billion. The scandal has threatened to slow Volkswagen’s efforts to catch up with rival carmakers as they move into new technology services that are transforming the auto industry.
Volkswagen said the new company, to be called Moia, will be based in Berlin, which has a vibrant startup scene, putting it at arm’s length from Volkswagen’s corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg.
“We want to prove that it is possible to create innovative mobility services outside Silicon Valley,” Moia CEO Ole Harms told participants at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London.
One of Moia’s businesses already is operating: the Gett ride-hailing service, in which Volkswagen acquired a strategic stake in May for $300 million. Moia plans next year to launch another service, an appbased shuttle, or ride-pooling service using electric vans to transport commuters.
Before the emissions scandal, Volkswagen management was slow to pursue development of electric vehicles and new digital businesses, falling behind rivals while upstarts such as Tesla Motors Co. and Uber established themselves as new players in the global auto game.
The German company still has much catching up to do.
Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. launched the Leaf, an electric compact car, in 2010. Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, launched its Car2Go carsharing service in 2008, followed by BMW AG and its DriveNow service. In January, General Motors Co. invested $500 million in Uber rival Lyft Inc. GM’s move on Lyft spurred Volkswagen into action.