25 October 2019 (MILTON KEYNES, UK)-- ViaVan, the leader in public mobility in Europe, announces the launch of the UK’s first fully electric fleet serving on-demand shared rides in Milton Keynes. This milestone is made possible by a £544,000 grant from the UK Department for Transport’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles, awarded to ViaVan and secured through Milton Keynes Council. As a complement to electrification of its fleet, ViaVan announces today a ground-breaking partnership with Milton Keynes Council to jointly ensure the success of on-demand shared rides in Milton Keynes.
ViaVan marks its one-year anniversary in Milton Keynes with the introduction of five electric Mercedes-Benz Vito eTourers to its fleet, and plans to expand the fleet of on-demand shuttles to thirty electric vehicles by 2020. The funding through Milton Keynes Council supports the Department for Transport’s initiatives around Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, which aims to help cities meet targets for reducing carbon emissions and provide an efficient and sustainable on-demand service for passengers.
Likewise, for ViaVan, the electrification of its fleet in Milton Keynes represents an important step in ViaVan’s vision to evolve public transport across the UK with smart, sustainable, and congestion-reducing shared rides. The programme aligns with the recent announcement by the UK Government to set bold plans to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport and Milton Keynes Council’s ambitions to become the greenest city in the world.
As an extension to this vision, ViaVan and Milton Keynes Council announce a voluntary cooperation that seeks to establish a meaningful framework within the city to enable the success of zero-emission, on-demand shared ride services. Through this cooperation, ViaVan and Milton Keynes Council will identify opportunities to expand access and infrastructure for on-demand shared rides, gather insights and data to support the delivery of innovative transport solutions, and collaborate on “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) offerings.
Across the UK, forward-thinking cities and public transport authorities are looking for sustainable and congestion-reducing solutions to cut down on the number of single occupancy vehicles on the road and eliminate unnecessary emissions. Expanding on its global expertise in shared rides, matching multiple passengers into a single vehicle with the use of “virtual bus stops,” ViaVan has built unique features into its algorithm to maximise the range and utilisation of electric vehicles. This includes accounting for real-time optimisation of vehicle battery life, dynamic allocation of charging tasks, and intelligent routing to charging infrastructure.
ViaVan has powered more than 100,000 rides in Milton Keynes since launch, and recently surpassed 7 million rides in its London service. Across the UK and Europe, ViaVan works with a number of leading public transport authorities, cities and partners including Transport for London (TfL) for a demand-responsive bus pilot in the Borough of Sutton, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) for a majority electric on-demand shared fleet, and Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL).
ViaVan CEO Chris Snyder said: “We are honoured to receive funding from the UK Department for Transport with support from Milton Keynes Council to fully electrify our fleet in Milton Keynes. Together with Milton Keynes Council, we are excited not only to establish a plan to achieve success for green, on-demand mobility offerings in the city, but also to create a model for how the public and private sectors can work together to realise the vision of smart, sustainable public transport for the future.”
George Freeman, Minister of State for Transport said: “We are determined to improve air quality in our towns and cities to reduce the health impact of dirty emissions. Through the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy we have invested nearly £1.5 billion to reach our ambition for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. New technologies and innovative transport services such as electric vehicle share are unlocking opportunities, helping meet the demands for cleaner, more convenient travel. ViaVan’s launch today shows industry is taking full advantage of the support on offer from Government for those looking to switch their fleets to electric.”
Councillor Martin Gowans, Cabinet Member for Transport said: "We are delighted to be working with Viavan to deliver an electric fleet to provide an on-demand shared ride service. Our partnership will ensure that we work towards Milton Keynes to be the greenest city and carbon neutral by 2030. We are proud of such technology and it aligns with MKC's Mobility Strategy."
Mark Lancaster, MP, Milton Keynes North said: “Milton Keynes is already home to so many exciting green initiatives and we really are leading the way on electric vehicles across the country. I’m especially pleased Government funding has gone into this project to ensure MK continues to be the go-to place for environmentally friendly innovation.”
Iain Stewart, MP, Milton Keynes South said: “I’m delighted that ViaVan has chosen Milton Keynes to locate its first fully electric fleet in the UK. This confirms Milton Keynes’ status as one of the top places in the country.”
ViaVan is the leading provider of innovative on-demand shared transit services in Europe. ViaVan was founded in 2017 as a joint venture between Via, the world’s most sophisticated developer of dynamic shared rides technology, and Mercedes-Benz Vans, the leading manufacturer of iconic passenger and cargo vans. Working closely with cities and public transit operators, ViaVan powers dynamic shared mobility services that complement existing transportation infrastructure. ViaVan currently operates direct-to-consumer services in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Milton Keynes. Through their partnership, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via are also collaborating on the development of advanced mobility solutions, from sensor technology, to electric vehicle fleet management, to autonomous driving. Globally, ViaVan and parent company Via have been tapped by cities and transportation players to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. With more than 90 launched and pending deployments in 20 countries, Via and ViaVan have provided more than 70 million rides to date.