Volkswagen is venturing into the car sharing sector by launching WeShare – an all-electric car sharing service in Berlin. The company is bringing a fleet of 1500 e-Golf vehicles, all of which will operate on green energy. This will be followed by additional 500 e-up! compact cars by next year. By 2020 this fleet will be joined by company’s first ID.3 electric vehicles.
Volkswagen said that WeShare will be a “free-floating” service which means that it will be operated digitally through a mobile app and will have no rental stations. Free-floating service is a one way service which is much more flexible than round-trip rental. The user can drive wherever they need to go and terminate the rental by returning the vehicle within an authorized area.
This same free-floating service is provided by Car2Go (Daimler’s subsidiary) and DriveNow (BMW’s subsidiary).
Christian Senger, Volkswagen Board Member for Digital Car & Services, said, “With WeShare, we have tailored car sharing to meet the needs of users: easy to use with 100 percent electric operation on green power.” He also added, “With such a consistent, broad offering, we stand out from the competition. We are outstandingly well-positioned to participate in the expanding car sharing market.”
During its initial phase, the service will be covering an area of 150 square-kilometer in the city center and beyond the city train line. Later, this area will expand with the expansion of fleet. Initially, customers will get a benefit of reduced tariff of 19 cents/minute which with time become 29 cents/minute.
Volkswagen also owns a ride-sharing service – MOIA – which currently operates in Hanover and Hamburg. This service too has a fleet of 100 percent electric vehicles. It wouldn’t be surprising if Volkswagen decides to integrates both of these services.
The company has stressed the 14-fold growth in the number of car sharing users in Germany since 2010. IN 2010, the number car sharing consumers was mere 180,000. But at the beginning of this year, this number had grown to 2.46 million users! No doubt Volkswagen wanted to dive in this booming business to try its luck.
Volkswagen will be expanding WeShare by launching the service in Prague (together with ŠKODA which is part of the VW group) and later in Hamburg by next year.