A smart city needs no private cars

Sampo Hietanen / Maas Global
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MaaS Global's CEO Sampo Hietanen intends to make moving around a smart city possible without a car to call one's own. The app Whim is set to conquer the world with this leading thought, starting in Helsinki.

Why did you develop this innovation? 

"Traffic is responsible for a great part of greenhouse emissions. If we want our cities to be smart regarding the environment, we need to move around more efficiently and use more public transportation. To get started with this ideal, there needs to be a true challenger to owning a car. Traffic has to work so well that citizens can move from point A to point B without a private car, at any given time. 

It is hard to do anything significant for the environment before people are willing to give up their cars. At the moment, the utilisation rate of passenger cars is around four percent and the rest of the time cars stand still. That is already a waste in itself.

Our service is as handy as a phone contract. One monthly subscription grants you everything you need. The service has unified all modes of transport such as public transportation, taxis and car rentals. We are attempting to take over a tricky part of transportation: we are trying to compete against owning a car. If there is an alternative that is just as good and easy, personal cars will become an expensive inconvenience." 

How has the realization of your vision moved along? 

"I started to consider a new transportation concept already in 2006. I had to however wait for technology to catch up before it was possible to build this new service. At that moment, smart phones – the interface of the service – were not yet developed enough. The mobile internet back then was not sufficient to carry out the service. I am behind the concept, but the development process has included hundreds of individuals.  


I have often been asked why the MaaS concept, or Mobility as a Service, was first put together here in Helsinki. The service requires the simultaneous mutual trust of many parties, and Finnish society, which is based on trust, makes this possible. That also gives us room to try new things. The flat hierarchy here allows to get in touch with anyone. City mayors and ministers can make space in their calendars relatively easily. 

Sampo Hietanen
CEO, MaaS Global
Sampo Hietanen / Maas Global

"A further factor is a start-up culture where one entrepreneur can ask another's help even if there is a bit of competition. Everyone knows each other but newcomers can also join in. People are welcoming and helpful to others. Those coming from abroad are not frowned upon nor are Finns placed above the rest."  

Sampo Hietanen / Maas Global
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What is the significance of this innovation? 

"The name of our service, Whim, comes from the idea that the user can take off anywhere on a whim. If we can make this promise to the user, this starts to mean fewer cars in the cityscape. This gives urban planning completely new prospects. It is possible to build cities that are more pleasant and more practical when they are no longer defined by cars and car lanes. 

At the very latest, once self-driven cars become fixtures in cities, there is no longer a need to own a private car. Helsinki is spearheading the transportation of the future, even if Helsinkians do not yet acknowledge this. 

MaaS will revolutionise the field of mobility. We are the first company of this kind so we have every reason to believe that we represent a significant part of the change. Our aims are high, inevitably so." 


Whim is a service by MaaS Global. It makes moving around easier by combining different services into one application. The mobile service, which has won international awards, combines different modes of transport from public transportation to taxis and car sharing. Users can either pay for one journey at a time or subscribe to the monthly package combining different modes of transport.  

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MaaS Global's CEO Sampo Hietanen intends to make moving around a smart city possible without a car to call one's own. The app Whim is set to conquer the world with this leading thought, starting in Helsinki.