Imagine cruising in a brand new BMW whenever you want, but not having to buy, fix, or insure it? How about grabbing a cab without worrying about the cost, and never having to queue for a ticket at the metro station again? If you like the idea, put your hands in the air, because Whim, the world’s first MaaS-based journey service, was unveiled this evening in Brussels. In case you’re not familiar with MaaS – and you’re probably not, as it’s a completely new idea – it stands for Mobility as a Service, and means the chance to buy all your travel at one go, in one place. What’s more, it’s a Finnish concept, internationally known as the Helsinki model for transport.
The people at MaaS Global, the Helsinki-based company behind Whim, don’t shy away from making bold claims about the app. “We’ll remember 2016 as the year that totally changed the way we move,” says Sampo Hietanen, Founder and CEO. “With Whim, you’re free to go anywhere you like, at any time, on any form of transport.”
One off payment for an entire month
Whim promises to be so incredibly convenient as to make car ownership unnecessary. “You can choose to buy a month’s journeys at one go, or a one off trip on a pay as you go basis. That’s it – then you’re ready to make your move. Your tickets are all there, and you’ve got access to anything from brand new cars to cabs, shared bikes, and of course public transport. We’re constantly adding new options, too,” Hietanen enthuses.
Greener, cleaner and leaner
In an age when all of us have too many possessions and too little time, and the environment is under more pressure than ever, Whim seems to fix all our urban travel problems. But can that really be the case? We made a list of 10 things that most trouble us about going places to see how Whim would deal with them:
1. We spend way too much time in traffic jams.
Whim claims to always find the best way to get everywhere. In busy times, it suggests a bike or public transport, giving us back the time we’d spend staring at the windscreen in frustration.
2. We never find a parking spot.
There’s nothing worse than driving around the block a hundred times, only to watch someone else park in the one spot we were aiming for. With Whim, we can opt for a taxi or a rental car instead.
3. We need to have a car for convenience, but to be honest, we hardly ever use it. In fact, the average car is parked 96% of the time.
Whim takes away the need to own a car, so we save lots of money yet enjoy equal convenience.
4. We feel bad about the CO2 emissions of our city driving.
Whim always encourages us to use public transport, giving extra travel points and prizes for green choices.
5. We’re so busy we forget where we’re supposed to be.
Whim syncs with our calendars and plans every journey in advance.
6. At least in Helsinki, some of the best spots for picnics, terraces or just plain lounging are taken up by parking lots.
With less private cars, we can reclaim squares and the seaside for happier urban living.
7. Taking a taxi is awesome, but we can never afford it.
Whim includes as many taxi journeys as we choose, so we can have a little luxury for less.
8. We’d love to go away for more weekends, but we can’t be bothered with the hassle of renting a car.
Rental cars are a part Whim, too, and if we’ve been green enough, we might even get a weekend cruiser for free.
9. It’d be great to see friends more, but all we have time for is commuting, shopping and cooking.
As well as getting us to places as quickly as possible, Whim promises to bring us extra services like groceries and meals delivered to the door.
10. Waiting in a taxi queue at 4am is the last thing we want to do (particularly at minus 25 degrees)
Waiting outside is so 2015. We can just press a button on a whim, and a cab will be there.
On paper, Whim sounds almost too good to be true – where do I sign up? We’re all for cleaner air, more free time, owning less and enjoying more. Fingers crossed that it will work and that tomorrow’s cities will all move on a Whim.
Whim will be launched in Helsinki after summer 2016 and expanded to two more European cities later in the year. It is currently being tested by a small group of beta users.