Volkswagen has chosen Israel to install a new ride-hailing service using self-driving electric cars. Together with Intel-owned Mobileye, VW is planning a joint venture to launch their Mobility-as-a-service (Maas) offer early next year and to scale up quickly.
While the joint venture called New Mobility in Israel is subject to approval, Volkswagen says the Israeli government had expressed their willingness to prepare the legal ground. This is particularly important as this will be the first service with autonomous electric vehicles in Israel.
However, VW says “the government of Israel has committed to support the project in three main areas: furnishing legal and regulatory support, sharing the required infrastructure and traffic data, and providing access to infrastructure as needed”.
Apart from sorting out legal issues in advance, VW and Mobileye took another local partner on board. Champion Motors will be responsible for fleet logistics and infrastructure of the Mobility-as-a-Service deployment. Mobileye will provide a self-driving system capable of Level 4 autonomous operations, so it does not require involvement from a human driver.
Obviously the electric cars will come from Volkswagen although they have not offered any detail on the model. In terms of timing, the joint venture plans to start rolling out the pilot early next year and to shift towards commercialisation by 2022. By then, “New Mobility in Israel will grow quickly from several dozen to hundreds of self-driving electric vehicles,” reads a release.
Moreover, the project has received executive support with Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess expressing his belief “that self-driving electric vehicles will offer Israel and cities around the world safe, clean and emission-free mobility, which is accessible and convenient. We are looking forward to this partnership with our local partners Mobileye and Champion Motors from Israel.”
This also points to a possible roll-out of the ride-hailing service for autonomous electric cars in other countries. Details are unknown as of yet.