Mercedes-Benz backed ViaVan has launched its ride-sharing service in London as an ‘affordable’ alternative to Uber.

Founded in 2017, ViaVan is a joint venture between Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans. It allows passengers heading in the same direction to share a ride together in a professionally-chauffeured vehicle.

The service will be offered in  Zones 1 and 2 of the city, exclusively as ride-pooling. To mark the launch, it will cost just £3 to get to or from Zone 1 for a limited time.

The company is positioning itself as an Uber alternative, claiming to offer the lower fares, better treatment of drivers and riders, and a corporate ethos that puts safety first.

Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan, said he is delighted to finally give Londoners an alternative to expensive and inefficient private car services: “Londoners deserve innovative transportation solutions that are safe, convenient, and affordable.”

“ViaVan is a different kind of company: we have social responsibility built into our DNA. Our mission is to power truly dynamic mass transit systems, which reduce congestion in our cities while offering drivers the opportunity to earn a decent living,” he added.

Unlike Uber, ViaVan doesn’t take you to an exact location of your choosing. Instead, it will choose nearby pickup and drop-off points that act as “virtual bus stops”.

The company hopes its service will complement existing transport links and is looking to develop electric and autonomous vehicles.

“Londoners are amongst the savviest of consumers, always looking for the right mix of quality, cost, convenience, and social impact,“ said Luca Parducci, general manager of ViaVan London.

“Unlike competitors’ pooling solutions, we’re confident that ViaVan will a huge hit – a comfortable and convenient way to get around that you can feel good about.” 

In 2017, the company raised $250m in funding led by German carmaker Daimler to help with its European expansion.

London is the second city that the service will be active in after it launched in Amsterdam last month.

Ride sharing is hailed as a potential way to reduce congestion and emissions in the centre of London, alongside schemes such as the congestion charge.