ViaVan, the joint venture of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via, launched its service in Amsterdam in early March 2018. The Dutch capital is thus the first city in Europe where this ecologically and economically sustainable alternative form of mobility is available. Amsterdam and the business model of ViaVan are an ideal fit. In addition to Copenhagen, Vienna and Barcelona, the Netherland's most populous city can call itself a Smart City and plays a leading role in Europe in the area of sustainable mobility and innovations.

ViaVan recently started a service in London.

On-demand van ridesharing for more efficient transportation
Thanks to an innovative technology that enables trips to be pooled, several passengers travel together without any protracted detours and delays. With the help of an app, riders can select their desired starting point as well as their destination. The system uses sophisticated algorithms created by the software experts from Via to calculate very efficiently and in real time which journeys can be "pooled" without significant detours. In this way, passengers with similar or the same destinations are brought together and transported jointly in a ViaVan.

For maximum efficiency and to arrive at the planned destination without major detours and/or delays, the app uses so-called virtual stops, e.g. junctions, where passengers can get on or off. The aim is to pool trips and consequently reduce the number of vehicles in the city. In contrast to private transport, this requires fewer vehicles, while increasing the available mobility capacity at the same time. In this way, the ridesharing service complements both the public transport system as well as already existing mobility offers – and it does so at a favourable price. The digital fare comprises a basic price – there is a fixed price in the city centre of Amsterdam – as well as a time or distance-based surcharge for outlying areas. The offer from ViaVan lies somewhere between the rate for classic local public transport and a taxi fare. Booking the journey by app ensures that the price that will ultimately be charged is known when the booking is made and no longer changes. Payment is made cashless via the app, which is fast, easy, convenient, and secure.

The idea of US-American start-up Via already managed to establish itself in New York, Chicago and Washington, DC Around 1.5m trips are made there each year, with already more than 30m successful trips having been made worldwide since the market launch. Via, which has been in existence since 2013 and is based in New York, founded the joint venture ViaVan together with Mercedes-Benz Vans in September of last year. Other cities will soon follow after the successful market launch in Amsterdam. These include Berlin and London, where the service will also be launched soon pending final approvals.

Long-term strategic partnership to further develop the mobility concept
Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via are jointly working on the advancement of intelligent mobility, which also comprises the optimisation of the use of Mercedes vans in ridesharing services. At present, the company uses mainly the Vito Tourer (up to nine seats) and the V-Class (up to eight seats), which are continuously adapted to this particular purpose. Thanks to its high configuration flexibility and connectivity, the new Sprinter will in future also see increased duty for certain applications where additional seats are required. Besides the further development of advanced software and sensor systems, the focus of the long-term strategic partnership is also on the use of battery-electric and thus locally emission-free vans as well as on autonomous driving.