As outsized ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft continue to build out their taxi-style marketplaces largely based around connecting individual passengers to individual drivers, a startup focused squarely on the carpooling opportunity has raised a large round of funding to expand outside of the U.S.
Via — which has developed a shuttle-based carpooling service that it offers directly in the U.S. for a flat-rate starting at $5, as well as through platform partnerships with other transportation providers — has raised what it is describing as a “strategic investment” led by German automaker Daimler to expand into Europe as well as to work more closely on other business opportunities together. Alongside this, Daimler’s Mercedes Benz division is investing $50 million into a joint venture with the startup. The full amount of funding has not been disclosed, but we understand from a source very close to the deal that it is $250 million.
The sizeable funding underscores ongoing momentum in the transportation industry to build more tech-based solutions, updating outmoded legacy infrastructure with more efficient services that can meet the new demand for on-demand. Services like Uber’s — even amidst all of the controversyaround its work culture and upheaval in its executive leadership — have been gaining ground as an alternative to car ownership, but they are also eating into the business of mass-transit services
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