MaaS Global, the company behind the all-in-one mobility app Whim, which offers a subscription service for public transportation, ridesharing, bike rentals, scooter rentals, taxis or car rentals, will be making its U.S. debut later this year.
The company will choose its American launch city from Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Miami, according to Sampo Hietanen, the company’s chief executive.
The Whim app is currently available in Antwerp, Birmingham, U.K., Helsinki and Vienna, according to Hietanen, and offers a range of subscription options. The top of the line version is a €500 per month all-inclusive package giving users unlimited access to ride hailing, bike and car rentals and public transportation.
“Cars take 70 percent of the market and it’s used 4 percent of the time so you’re paying for the optional capacity,” says Hietanen. Using Whim, which, at the high end costs about as much as a car in Europe, users can get all of the optionality without paying for the unused capacity. It should ideally reduce transportation costs and cut down on emissions, if Hietanen’s claims are accurate.
The Helsinki-based company uses APIs to connect with the back end of a number of service providers. For car rentals, it’s working with businesses like Hertz, Enterprise and EuropeCar; for ridesharing, the company has linked with Gett and local European taxi companies, according to Hietanen.
Users have already booked 3 million trips through the company’s app since its launch and the company is continuing to expand not just in North America, but in Asia as well. There are plans in the works for the company to launch operations in Singapore.
Giving consumers more options for transit through a single gateway could reduce demand for vehicles, but some analysts argue that it won’t do much to alleviate congestion on roads. Consumers, they argue, will choose the convenience of rideshare over mass transit and could actually increase.
As Richard Rowson, a mobility consultant from the U.K., noted in this post:
MaaS doesn’t implicitly mean a net decrease nor increase in the number of road vehicle miles. The changes are complex, but in balance look likely to result in an increase.
Factors such as migration from private car to public transport should cause a reduction, but migration from train and bus, to private hire and smaller demand responsive buses will cause an increase. Other factors such as ‘positioning’ movements as ‘on demand’ vehicles are positioned to exploit demand also create journeys.
Smart journey planning and navigation systems should make better use of available road capacity, such as identifying alternative routes – but at the expense of migrating through traffic to local access roads.
There is the potential that having a single point of access to mobility may actually help cities push riders to favor public transportation by offering a window into the amount of time using each service would take and showing users the fastest route.
Last August the company said it had raised a €9 million round from undisclosed investors. It had previously received capital from Toyota Financial Services and its insurance partner Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance.