Daimler Mobility Services and Mercedes-Benz Vans are forming a joint venture with New York City-based startup Via, along with a $50 million dollar investment from Mercedes-Benz Vans. The joint venture will focus on launching Via in Europe, according to a company statement, in addition to a long-term plan to design and build vans optimized for on-demand shared rides, “including integration of Via’s software with on-board vehicle sensors, electric drive, and autonomous driving.”
Via currently operates in New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. The investment is part of Daimler AG’s strategy to focus heavily on innovations and digitization, especially in the space of connected vehicles, autonomous driving, flexible and shared mobility, and electric vehicles.
Coinciding with this joint venture, Daimler Financial Services created a new executive position along with appointing a new head of mobility services late last week.
Daimler appointed Benedikt Schell in the new position as a chief experience officer (CXO), a role that has responsibility for global customer and digital strategy and business model transformation, according to a company announcement. Additionally, Jörg Lamparter — previously the Moovel Group chief executive — was appointed head of mobility services.
In his role as CXO, Schell will assume immediate responsibility for expanding the digital business models of the financial and mobility service provider Daimler Financial Services, as well as for its global customer and digital strategy, the company said.
“Today, we offer a range of financial and products and mobility services,” Schell said in a statement. “In the future, we want to create mobility experiences that fit consumers’ business and personal needs at any stage of their lives. In other words, our aim is to enable our private and business customers to take advantage of our full suite of services, including those from Daimler Commercial Vehicles and Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars, easily, securely, intuitively, and from any location. By digitizing our financing and mobility services, we can transform our business processes to meet the needs of current and future customers. ”
Lamparter, as head of mobility services, assumes responsibility for all mobility services within Daimler Financial Services. This includes overseeing the brands Car2Go, Moovel, and MyTaxi, along with managing the company’s partnerships with Blacklane, FlixBus, and now Via.
Late last week, Daimler AG also said it is turning its Business Innovation unit into a full-fledged internal incubator called Lab1886. “The goal is to move faster from the idea to the product or business model,” the company said in an announcement. As an incubator, Lab1886 will be both an innovation lab of Daimler AG, provide the latest hardware and software, and offer mentors to assist Daimler employees.
Lab1886 will work at four sites on three continents: Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany; Beijing in China; and Sunnyvale, Calif. Lab1886 will solicit ideas from Daimler workers, employ a “Shark Tank”-type competition to select the most promising ideas and then develop them — aiming to bring a minimal viable product to market as quickly as possible. If that idea works, it could be incorporated in Daimler itself or spun out into their own companies, Daimler AG said.
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