Volkswagen and Mobileye plan Israel’s first self-driving EV ride-hailing service

The Volkswagen Group, Intel’s Mobileye and Champion Motors have announced plans to deploy Israel’s first self-driving ride-hailing service – or Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) – in 2019.

The partners will use the joint venture – ‘New Mobility in Israel’ – as a global beta site for testing the MaaS model using autonomous electric vehicles. The companies plan to scale the service from its launch next year to commercialisation by 2022, and expect to grow it quickly to involve hundreds of self-driving electric vehicles.

Volkswagen will provide the electric vehicles for the service, while Mobileye will provide a full hardware and software self-driving system validated for Level 4 autonomy. Champion Motors, Israel’s second-largest car importer and distributor, will run the fleet operations and control centre.

“We firmly believe 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,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

“We are delighted to embark on a joint venture with a world-leading automotive OEM, aimed at delivering a transformational mobility service,” said Professor Amnon Shashua, Mobileye CEO and senior vice president at Intel.

“Our service aims to intelligently and dynamically adapt to the urban mobility needs of the 21st Century, catering to the mobility-mileage demands within the city while minimizing the direct/indirect incurred societal costs – air/noise pollution, congestion and safety.”

New Mobility in Israel also has the support of the Israeli government, which is backing the project in three main areas: legal and regulatory support, sharing the required infrastructure and traffic data, and providing access to infrastructure as needed.

Although the service will be the country’s first commercial MaaS service using self-driving vehicles, the government support and rulings will be applied to other ventures wishing to operate an MaaS in Israel.