A growing number of automakers are getting into the car-sharing game, with Volkswagen the latest to give it a whirl.
The German company first made mention of its WeShare service a year ago, and finally got around to launching it this week, in Berlin.
Specifically, the service has launched with 1,500 e-Golf cars, followed by 500 e-up! vehicles at the beginning of 2020. The company’s new fully electric ID.3 will also join the fleet when it’s introduced in mid-2020.
WeShare operates as a “free-floating” system, meaning that at the end of the rental you can leave the car practically anywhere within the service zone, which covers central Berlin and a little bit beyond.
As with similar services, customers need a smartphone to use it, and in WeShare’s case will need to be at least 21 years old and to have held a driver’s license for at least one year.
For now, WeShare customers will be charged 0.19 euros (about $0.22), but from September three different pricing tariffs will be introduced, averaging 0.29 euros (about $0.33) per minute.
Volkswagen said that at the beginning, its carshare vehicles will be collected and charged by WeShare employees. Later on, however, drivers will be offered incentives to recharge the vehicles themselves.
In 2020, WeShare will expand to the German city of Hamburg, as well as to Prague in the Czech Republic. A move into other markets beyond Europe is expected, but timing will depend to some extent on the success of the new service in the coming months.
Volkswagen noted how car-sharing is growing more popular in Germany, with users of such services rising 14-fold since 2010. At the start of this year, there were about 2.46 million people registered with car-sharing services in the country, compared to just 180,000 in 2010.
But the highly competitive market is beginning to see casualties elsewhere. General Motors-backed Maven, for example, recently revealed plans to shutter its carsharing service in almost half of the U.S. cities in which it operates.
Volkswagen’s mobility efforts, which operate under the “Volkswagen We” umbrella, mirror those of other automakers, with many looking to diversify their offerings as car sales come under increasing pressure globally.
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