Ride sharing startup Via has raised a large funding round in an attempt to expand outside of the U.S.
The exact total amount of funding has not been disclosed, but it has been reported to be around $250 million (approx. £192.8 million). $50 million of this has come from German automotive group Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz.
The investment comes as part of a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via. The partnership means Via’s on-demand shuttle service will soon be available in London, using the German vans.
Via is fundamentally different from other services like Uber because it is a carpool service, rather than connecting individual passengers to individual drivers. In the U.S, Via offers its service for a flat-rate starting at $5.
On its new partner, Daimler said: ‘Via has focused on developing, from the ground up, a scalable and on-demand shared ride solution. The intelligent Via algorithm supports smart public transport, enabling a dynamic mass transit system that reduces traffic volume in urban areas.’
Now the company is looking to achieve this in Europe, starting in London. Daimler states that using Via’s technology, which it calls ‘intelligent shared rides’, passengers heading in the same direction can share the same van, which will be provided by Mercedes-Benz.
Head of Mercedes-Benz vans, Volker Mornhinweg, said: ‘On-demand ride-sharing offers many new ways of making city traffic efficient, needs-based and sustainable – Via is one of the most successful providers in the growing ride-sharing sector.’
Via co-founder and CTO, Oren Shoval, commented on the importance of providing of the vehicle in public transport, saying: ‘We at Via know that having the right vehicle is crucial for providing the best customer experience. We are excited to expand our successful partnership with Daimler, which began in 2015, and collaborate on developing the optimal vehicle for the future of mobility.’
The company has also achieved some success by licensing its operating system to other companies, such as Arriva, in order to let them build their own carpooling trials.