The Next Generation brand depositions the historical leaders and
stalwarts of the category. But what if you are yourself one of the
old guard, and you are not just being challenged by rival brands
but major societal shifts? How do you become part of a brighter
future when you are also synonymous with the past?
For the car industry the era-defining global emergency of climate
change has been accompanied by a new generation’s shifting attitudes
to ownership and consumption. Why buy or lease a shiny new car
every three years and have it sit on the driveway when I can jump
in the Zipcar parked on my street, summon a Lyft in three minutes,
or hop on a Bird scooter to nip to work?
With a future-facing public declaration that “new times call for new
forms of collaboration” (1) the Volkswagen Group is leaning into that
challenge head on, stating their intention to become not simply
a manufacturer of cars (gas, electric or otherwise), but “a globally
leading provider of sustainable mobility.” (2)
The big idea: Take a million cars off the road.
MOIA is an independent company within the Volkswagen Group,
focused on creating innovative mobility solutions to make cities
“more beautiful, more liveable and safer”. (3) Launched in 2016 with
a mission to take 1 million cars off the road, it is looking towards a new
era where car ownership is a thing of the past. The first venture is an
urban transportation system based on ridesharing – think UberPool
but in custom-designed electric-powered minivans. With Hamburg
and Hanover as the launch cities for its services, they plan for 500
MOIA vehicles on the road by 2020.
Key here for the company is a next generation culture as much as
a Next Generation narrative, and one of the impressive parts of the
MOIA story so far is the speed with which they were able to implement
their idea – just ten months from a vehicle concept to its presentation,
which they attribute to the agile processes at Volkswagen’s Osnabrück
manufacturing plant. For Volkswagen Group, then, maybe the future
will lie in the powerful combination of its own historical expertise
and resource with the big bold ideas and cultural speed of this
new member of the family.