Here Mobility has launched a new transportation app in Germany which it hopes will allow it to compete with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.
The company believes that its new app is ‘democratising’ transport. SoMo (short for Social Mobility) is a neutral platform that has already signed up more than 500 third parties to get riders from A to B, regardless of whether they need e-scooters, cars, public transport, robotaxis or anything else.
‘The sharing economy continues to transform our society, and ridesharing has no doubt been leading the revolution,’ wrote the Head of Here mobility Liad Itzhak on the company’s blog page. ‘McKinsey research found that 50% of surveyed ride-sharers enjoy ride-sharing for the social aspect of it. While the sharing economy continues to rise, only 8% of all adults have participated in some form of automotive sharing. The fact is, it can be hard to get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know.’
Here Technologies is majority owned by Audi, BMW and Daimler.
SoMo lets users plan where they need to be, then choose from a host of private and public transport services to get them there, similar to Google Maps. But unlike the dominant ride-hailing groups, SoMo is a social media network, too, connecting friends who are attending the same “gatherings”.
This service highlights events that are defined by location, time, attendees, and intent. A Gathering can be a public event like a concert, a private event like a night out, or a recurring event like a carpool to work. Users can also explore Gatherings happening nearby and create or join a ride to get there.
Itzhak said SoMo’s chief goal was to bring back the original promise of shared vehicles: reduced traffic and cheap services. It aims to meet this goal even by connecting riders with drivers on free transactions it cannot profit from.
SoMo launched in 15 western cities including London, Barcelona, Athens, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The plan is to add five to 10 cities each month, in a gradual rollout aimed at ensuring the services offered are working correctly. Participating companies include CityFleet in London and PideTaxi in Spain. Eurowings, the first airline to sign up, will allow flyers to book their post-flight trip before they step on the plane. The app is designed to notify its partners if the flight has a delayed arrival, then re-book if necessary.
The app is open for Uber and Lyft to join. However, Itzhak has said that neither company has yet expressed an interest.