SUNNYVALE, Calif. and NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc. (MBRDNA) and Via just launched a new ride sharing service in Orange County, California. This pilot program marks the first instance of a fully on-demand mobility service in a suburban environment in the United States. The project is the initial step in a collaboration between the two companies that is focused on transitioning transportation from a system of fixed routes and schedules to a fully dynamic network - the future of mobility.
Via is an on-demand mobility service that lets people heading in the same direction share vehicles. The service utilizes sophisticated algorithms that dynamically produce the best route and most efficient pick-up and drop-off points creating a truly seamless system without the need to rely on fixed routes. Passengers select their individual origins and destinations using an iPhone or Android app and pay $5 for their chauffeured, premium rides with experienced drivers. Via currently operates on a large scale in New York and Chicago. In their first joint pilot project, in Ladera Ranch, Orange County, MBRDNA and Via are providing brand new Mercedes-Benz Metris passenger vans for the community to experience this affordable, convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation.
"We're delighted to be working with Mercedes-Benz to explore new ways to extend our vision for convenient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly alternatives to existing transportation, beyond our operations in New York City and Chicago," said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. "Ride-sharing provides a unique solution to the challenge of reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road, without the high-cost and limitations of creating new public transit infrastructure. By utilizing Mercedes' world class vehicles and experiences in mobility services as well as Via's passenger aggregation and route optimization technology, we're excited to bring on-demand transportation to south Orange County."
"Mercedes has been at the forefront of developing innovative mobility solutions. In the urban market, we have car2go, the largest carsharing fleet in the world. We are looking to the future and focusing on the challenge of mobility in the suburban environment," says Rasheq Zarif, Senior Manager of Mercedes-Benz' Business Innovation Group North America. "As the nature of mobility shifts, it's not compelling to remain a vehicle manufacturer but to develop into a mobility provider. Partnering with Via helps us take an active role in testing new ways of future mobility."
The Orange County pilot will service an area that includes the residential community of Ladera Ranch, Saddleback College, major retail establishments in neighboring Mission Viejo, and the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Metrolink station. Service will operate Monday to Friday from 2pm to 8pm. For more information, visit ridewithvia.com/southoc.
Via is re-engineering public transit—from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. The Via algorithm matches, in real time, multiple passengers headed the same way with a single large SUV or van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and Via's systems instantly select and, if necessary, re-route the vehicle that best matches the passenger's route. Targeting the gap between outdated public transit and expensive luxury car services, the Via platform currently operates in New York City and Chicago, has provided more than two million rides, and is growing rapidly. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, who previously led engineering projects for the Israeli Air Force and have PhDs in neuroscience and systems biology from Stanford University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, respectively, the idea for Via came from Israel, where many people rely on shared vehicles called sheruts to travel quickly, cheaply and easily along major streets. Via is headquartered in New York, with offices in Tel Aviv and Chicago. For more information, visit www.ridewithvia.com.
About Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc.
In 1995, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive manufacturer worldwide to open a research and development center in Silicon Valley. The luxury brand had already recognized that not only the IT sector, but also the automotive future was being shaped here and is constantly pushing forward the networking of driver, vehicle and the outside world, as well as the digitalization of car and mobility. Business Innovation was initiated in 2007 as Daimler's lab for innovative business solutions beyond the core business of car manufacturing. The team of Business Innovation deals with future trends and technological, social and cultural developments to create profitable business models which are tested and evaluated on a pilot basis. Success stories like car2go and Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy started there as proof-of-concept projects and, meanwhile, have come up to prosperous businesses. Business Innovation is not only located in the Headquarter in Stuttgart but also in Beijing, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Sunnyvale, CA. The Business Innovation Team at MBRNDA started in 2012.
SOURCE Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc.