Amid the woes Uber has faced in the UK’s Capital, a rival company has been backed by Mercedes-Benz in a bid to take over the ride-hailing business in London.
Joining forces in a $50m venture, Mercedes-Benz and New York start-up Via will be bringing competition to Uber with a new ride-hailing service from today.
After waiting a year to launch, the company will be setting off its ‘Via Van’ service in London from Wednesday. With the aim of overtaking Uber the company will be providing a shared ride-service, similar to UberPool, however passengers may have to walk a short distance to reach the car in order to make sure routes are not diverted too much.
The ethos behind Via’s plan is to make life easier for commuters heading in the same direction, as well as encouraging more use of carpooling to better the environment.
“We wanted to make it simple and affordable for people to travel in the same direction. We really believe the future of mobility has to involve sharing,” Chris Snyder, Chief Executive of Via, said. “Londoners are amongst the savviest of consumers, always looking for the right mix of quality, cost, convenience, and social impact. Unlike competitors’ pooling solutions, we’re confident that ViaVan will be a huge hit – a comfortable and convenient way to get around that you can feel good about.”
Together the new venture aims to compete with Uber on both price and strategy, in addition to trying to encourage more people to carpool and take more cars off the road. The timing could not be more perfect for the company, as Uber has been ridiculed for its service in the Capital and potentially being banished from the streets altogether after losing its licence in several UK cities.
Despite the positivity from the company, the taxi market has been heavily tested by various organisations but none have succeeded in the manor Uber has. Taxify was the latest to attempt launching in London, but TfL forced the company to withdraw its attempt. However, the company has said it has no concerns over its own licence in the city, hoping this will boost its position in the market.
“TfL are very concerned with public safety, they have been distracted by other companies with quite public issues. But we have established a very productive relationship with TfL over the last few months,” said Snyder.
Uber have attempted to regain the trust of TfL, implementing new safety measures such as better security when order an Uber and also using data more effectively to make rides the most efficient they can be.
But the question still stands, is it enough for Uber to win the legal battle it faces?
On the other hand, ViaVan has said it has been already been providing around 1.5million shared rides each month with thousands of drivers signing up to the open positions in London. The service is currently available across the US, in New York, Chicago and Washington DC.