Daimler Joins the Mobility Services War on the West Coast
Automakers are as preoccupied with mobility services as they are with new cars these days. Detroit manufacturers have already mobilized with Maven and FordPass; BMW rolled out ReachNow in Seattle in April; and Daimler’s Car2Go has been in the car-sharing business for several years. Now Daimler is expanding its reach with moovel, a merger of RideScout and GlobeSherpa that will give urban commuters more options for avoiding congested roadways.
There is a dizzying number of brand names to digest here, but moovel aims to bring consumers multiple options under the umbrella of two products: moovel transit and RideTap. The first, moovel transit, serves as a clearinghouse for mass-transit mobile ticketing and payment solutions for parking, bike share, and ride-shares. Bay Area’s MUNI, Atlanta Streetcar, and Portland Streetcar are three of the transit companies on the platform.
As for RideTap, the evolution of RideScout can be used within other apps and offer city dwellers a list of options to move around the area. Portland residents will have the first crack at this service, which connects people to Lyft and Car2Go Smart vehicles for one-way trips. More cities are on deck once the kinks are worked out in Portland.
In theory, a service like moovel will allow a city dweller to look to a single platform to get around in the course of a day. Between ride-sharing to work, bike-sharing to run an errand at lunch, and car-sharing after work in preparation for a weekend, your phone can become a tough device to navigate. It should be simpler.
So far, the solutions have been piecemeal and scattered between services, some of which have not been successful as standalone programs. While Car2Go Seattle has been a success in the Emerald City, the all-electric model in San Diego fizzled out earlier in 2016. Undaunted, Daimler replaced the EVs with gas Smart cars and will try again in Southern California.
BMW’s ReachNow recently debuted its premium car-sharing service in Seattle to offer city residents a different look, including an emissions-free option with the i3. One-way service has been the most appealing to consumers to date, and ZipCar Los Angeles began offering this service to drivers in one of the most congested cities in the U.S.
GM’s Maven and FordPass are two programs designed to bring a complete array of mobility services to consumers who may not be considering a car, but both are in the process of emerging. Moovel has the opportunity to take on some of the early adopters while Detroit gets its final draft in order. As with electric car development, what happens on the West Coast could determine the direction of other U.S. markets.