This Finnish tech startup wants to identify ‘car addiction’ with its new system

The idea is simple: the transportation service is excellent, you will never need a car again.

That was the start of the Finnish MaaS Global Oy that has been operating since 2015. The company has launched a mobile app, Whim, which is already in use in several European cities and Tokyo. In the capital of Finland, the happiest country in the world, 12% of users have already said that they are motivated to donate their cars, as many have also said they plan to do so.

MaaS Global, its investors including BP Plc, Mitsubishi Corp. and Toyota Financial Services, says its operating system can improve traffic congestion and reduce pollution. That is, research shows that living in a clean environment contributes equally to happiness and well-being.

Chief Executive Officer Sampo Hietanen says creating a world where it is much easier to not own your car is an obvious way to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector. In the U.S.U.

“In fact, if we want to tackle CO2 emissions, we have to come up with a way to maintain our freedom of movement in the same way as a car,” Hietanen said in an interview.

Whim, who recently met Wondo, a Spanish rival founded by infrastructure company Ferrovial SA, gives users the opportunity to plan and pay for a trip with a single app. It provides access to a variety of services such as electric scooters, city bikes, public transport and taxis at fixed prices over short distances. Services vary from city to city, with up to 300,000 people using Whim worldwide.

Both Whim and Wondo work as route planners, suggesting a better way to get from A to B, and offer the opportunity to buy tickets or book cars within their applications. In addition to payment plans, as Whim has monthly subscriptions – like Netflix entertainment.

“We’ve learned that the price model needs to be paid for in advance, because people start trying to try this before committing to registration,” said Heetanen, who is also the founder of the company.

But recent research in the UK and the Netherlands shows that people are more attached to their cars, and that such services are often more attractive to passengers who are already using public transport.

“The value of MaaS is not in driving a private car, which is not possible, but in building a multidisciplinary course that gives people the opportunity to be part of a program designed to create a simpler, more inclusive and sustainable future,” write Elena Alyavina, Alexandros Nikitas and Eric. Tchouamou Njoya at the University of Huddersfield in the UK in a research report.

For Heetanen, it is clear that the industry is still in its infancy, and the real promise of travel-as-a-service will be realized when combined with independent self-driving (hopefully electric) vehicles that can spread the potential market beyond urban areas in rural areas.

“We are like Netflix when it still sends DVDs to people,” he said.

In addition, the service will only be as good as the underground transport network, and cities where such applications are available already have highways for public trains and buses.

Whim is currently located in Helsinki, Vienna, Antwerp, the Birmingham region of the UK and in the greater Tokyo area. On June 1, it launched in Switzerland, for the first time the MaaS service will be rolled out across the country.

Wondo works in Madrid with expansion plans in Spain and Portugal, Hietanen said. MaaS Global hopes to use the existing Ferrovial network to eventually deploy its services in the United States and South America, after its opening plans in Miami, Vancouver and Chicago last year collapsed.

“Creating a service model is key to a great business opportunity,” Hietanen said. “But it is also the key to solving urban traffic problems and their impact on the environment.”


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