Car Industry

Volkswagen is taking on Uber with Moia, its new ride-hailing startup

Launching in 2017, Moia will be VW Group's 13th brand, which sounds like a lot, because it is.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

You just launched a new brand. Couldn't you, uh, look a bit happier?

Volkswagen

At this year's Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen said it would introduce a brand dedicated to mobility services, but it didn't have a name. Now, it does, and that name is Moia.

"In the future, not everyone will have their own car, so we want to help with Moia," said Matthias Müller, Volkswagen Group CEO, in a statement. With the explosive growth of competitors' car sharing services, specifically BMW's ReachNow, Volkswagen wants to get ahead of the curve and develop a whole outfit devoted specifically to sharing.

Moia (a word I cannot figure out how to pronounce) will start out as a 50-person startup in Berlin, but it has hopes of expanding "rapidly" by the end of 2017. It will act as an independent entity, just like Audi or any other VW Group company. Moia is also set to partner with Hamburg, Germany, in order to develop mobility services that are reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly.

The company's first step, though, is a bit more manageable. It'll work to develop a ride-hailing service that offers on-demand rides with affordable pricing for those without cars. The second step is to create a carpool service, which it calls "connected commuting," in the hopes that it will make individual and public transport more efficient, focusing on cities first. This program should enter the pilot phase in 2017.

Volkswagen hopes that Moia will constitute a "substantial" chunk of the group's sales by 2025. That's the target date for a number of Volkswagen's new offerings, including a whole slew of electric vehicles spread across its brands, from Volkswagen's I.D. to Porsche's Mission E.

Fun fact: According to Automotive News, Moia comes from the Sanskrit word for magic, "maya."