Tech roundup – VW’s Moia mobility brand and Apple’s self driving system image

The car industry is in a very interesting place, which is why we’re coming up with a new small subunit called tech roundup, where we can gather more than one interesting mobility stories.

The Dieselgate-struck German automaker is not only shaping up to become the world’s largest, but it also strives to ride the wave of change – challenging startups such as Uber with its new Moia mobility brand, which is the company’s way of expanding into ride-sharing and driverless shuttles. The VW Group introduced its new Moia, Uber-rivaling mobility brand at a technology event in London – and the new unit will be crucial for its major expansion into electric vehicles and mobility services. The name is a derivation of the Sanskrit word “maya”, which translates as “magic”. CEO Ole Harms said: “We are still loving around our cities like we did 20 or 30 years ago. We need to offer new forms of transportation and really improve the traffic situation.”

The new company will also use previous partnerships and investments by VW such as the earlier tie-up with ride-sharing app Gett and will offer multi-seater shuttles hailed by a smartphone app and shared between users. At first, VW Transporter minivans will be used, but later on autonomous electric vehicles based on VW’s MEB platform will become the norm. Harms added self-driving versions will be trailed starting 2019, with full autonomous fleets in operation by 2021. “Moia will help us gain a deeper understanding of new forms of mobility and how to make them even more attractive in future, to offer a much broader scope than at present and to tailor these services to suit very wide-ranging needs,” added VW Group CEO Matthias Muller.

Meanwhile, Apple – the same ones denying they are working on anything auto-related other than CarPlay – have recently sent an open letter to the NHTSA saying they are “excited” about autonomous tech in a number of fields, specifically “transportation.” In the letter, written by director of product integrity Steve Kenner, Apple exposes its vision on the development and testing of autonomous technology on public roads.