ViaVan, the joint venture between Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, has launched its ride-sharing service in London as a 'much-needed alternative' to Uber.

The app allows passengers to be matched in real time with other riders headed their way, sharing their trip in a chauffeured vehicle.

It works by directing customers to a nearby corner - a virtual bus stop - for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick trips without lengthy detours that take riders out of their way.

ViaVan says its service will offer the "lowest fares, better treatment of drivers and riders, and a corporate ethos that puts safety first".

"Londoners deserve innovative transportation solutions that are safe, convenient, and affordable," said CEO Chris Snyder.

"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.

"We are delighted to launch in London and to finally give Londoners an alternative to expensive and inefficient private car services."

This is the second city launch for ViaVan, following on the heels of its launch in Amsterdam last month.

Boasting the lowest prices in the city, the company hopes to "close the gap", serving as an affordable extension of the public transit system.

By grouping multiple passengers into a single shared vehicle, it is also hoped that the service will reduce congestion and emissions in London.

"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 be a huge hit - a comfortable and convenient way to get around that you can feel good about."

To mark the launch, all ViaVan rides to or from zone 1 will cost just £3 for a limited time.