FRANKFURT --Volkswagen Group's new mobility services brand, Moia, has hired Robert Henrich as its chief operating officer. Henrich is one of the leading figures in car-sharing services and was a high profile executive at Daimler until his departure in February.
Henrich founded Daimler's Car2Go unit in 2009 as a pilot project. It was the world’s first non-station-based car-sharing service. Today Car2Go is the world’s largest "free-floating" car-sharing operation with services in 29 cities in Europe, the U.S. and China. It has a fleet of cars over 14,000 vehicles and over 2 million registered customers. Its success prompted other automakers to set up similar operations such as BMW Group’s DriveNow.
Henrich stirred controversy with views that undermined traditional automotive business model. He predicted automobiles would lose their status symbol, a key selling point for premium automakers such as Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand.
As CEO of Daimler’s mobility services business Moovel, he expanded the business through acquisitions such as MyTaxi, RideScout and GlobeSherpa. His vision was to create an “Amazon of Mobility Services” by creating one dominant mobility-on-demand platform much like Amazon achieved in online retail.
Henrich was replaced in February as CEO of Daimler’s mobility services business, Moovel, by Joerg Lamparter, a former sales manager at Mercedes-Benz Bank, over strategic differences. A Mooval spokesman declined to comment.
Henrich starts at Moia on Jan. 1. VW Group's new focus on mobility services is an about-turn. Company sources say that under former CEO Martin Winterkorn there was no interest in providing mobility services since a start-up would generate losses while simultaneously undermining its core business of selling car ownership to millions of customers every year.
The arrival of Matthias Mueller as Winterkorn's successor has changed the attitude within senior management and in May VW announced it was investing $300 million in a strategic stake in ride-hailing services provider Gett. VW said on Monday it has set up the Moia brand for its mobility services.