Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Vans is entering the ride-sharing sector by setting up a joint venture with US startup company Via to bring the service to Europe.

Daimler Mobility Services will also be a strategic investor in Via.

Via claims to have has focused on developing a scalable on-demand shared ride 'solution' with an intelligent algorithm which supports smart public transport.

Mercedes-Benz Vans is spending US$50m on the joint venture and Daimler Mobility Services' Volker Mornhinweg will join the Via board.

Headquartered in New York, Via's shared ride service in New York, Chicago, and Washington DC provides 1m rides per month, and its technology is licensed worldwide. 

The JV will introduce on demand shared rides in Europe. Passengers headed in the same direction are matched with a single van, increasing vehicle utilisation while relieving the strain on inner-city roads. London will be the first city to launch the new joint service this year. Other European areas will follow. 

"On-demand ride-sharing offers many new ways of making city traffic efficient, needs-based and sustainable – especially when it involves the use of spacious, safe and comfortable vans," said Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.