Volkswagen Launches New Company to Take on Uber

Volkswagen AG on Monday announced a newly formed company that focusing on ride-hailing, autonomous driving and electric cars, aiming to compete with Uber Technologies Inc. and other tech rivals.

The new company, called Moia, will be based on in Berlin. It aims to provide digital auto services and mobility at affordable prices for customers who don’t have their own car. It also expects to be one of the world’s three biggest mobility providers and to generate “a couple of billion” euros in a few years, according to Moia Chief Executive Ole Harms.

“We’re a startup with VW group’s resources and we have a global aspiration,” Harms said ahead of the unit’s official unveiling Monday at the Tech Crunch Disrupt Conference. The new company will initially focus on ride-hailing service, in which Volkswagen invested €300 million ($321 million) in May this year. The next step is to launch car pooling and shuttle service using its own built electric vehicles which may be self-driving.

“Moia will develop and market its own mobility services either independently or in partnership with cities and existing transport systems,” said Harms. “In the future our electric fleet of cars and shuttles will create cleaner, quieter cities where traffic is not just reduced but also more evenly distributed,” he said. Moia’s first electric and self-driving car may be launched before 2021, Harms said.

Volkswagen expects the new company will be a pillar to its traditional auto business after the diesel emissions scandal. The emissions-cheating scandal had cost Volkswagen nearly $20 billion and the company is recovering from it. “Tech companies need to operate as a fleet,” said Mr. Harms. “Now they are asset light, but they will become asset heavy.”

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