A new carpooling pilot program launched today in Israel by online mapping company Waze could eventually put Google, which purchased the company in 2013 for $1 billion, in direct competition with Uber.
“We’re conducting a small, private beta test in the greater Tel Aviv area for a carpool concept, but we have nothing further to announce at this time.”
RideWith will start in Tel Aviv, Ra’anana and Herzliya, densely populated areas where most of Israel’s tech workers live and who are RideWith’s potential target audience. Depending on how many customers use the app and the demand for the service, the company will then expand to other cities in Israel.
There’s no set date for the app’s roll-out in the United States or other countries, despite the fact that ridesharing apps have wildly grown in popularity in recent years.
RideWith works by using Wave’s navigation platform to understand the routes drivers take to and from work and then looks for passengers who are making similar trips in the same direction. The app only allows users to be driven from their homes to their workplaces and then from their workplaces back home, ensuring that drivers are only making two drops every day and passengers aren’t forced to endure any extra stops.
Google could be poised to dominate ridesharing services because industry leader Uber uses Google’s mapping functions, allowing Google to see raw data about which cities are the most popular for ridesharing, as well as the driving patterns of users and drivers. Google can then use that information when the time comes to expand RideWith. The only problem is, the new competition between Google and Uber may push Uber to stop using Google Maps.
If RideWith works, its carpooling service will enable users to save money on gas as well as maintenance and upkeep of their vehicles. Going green is great for the environment, but as for profits, it’s hard to say how successful the app will be since passengers will only pay their drivers a nominal fare determined by distance. In addition, unlike Uber, drivers are restricted to two stops a day and won’t receive a salary from RideWith. They will purportedly receive some sort of compensation based on their time picking up passengers and the gas they use.
Another problem lies in exactly how RideWith will retain its drivers. Waze knows that, which is why the company told Reuters that ordering rides won’t be successful until more drivers start working with RideWith.