Volkswagen launches electric vehicle-only car-sharing service

Volkswagen (VW) launched an all-electric car-sharing service called WeShare in Berlin with 1,500 Golf compact electric vehicles (EVs). WeShare will ramp up operations in 2020 by adding 500 e-Up! EVs and expanding to Hamburg and Prague.

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Customers can use a mobile app and credit card to rent one of WeShare’s EVs, which can be picked up and dropped off anywhere in the Berlin operating area. At launch, use of a car will cost €0.19 ($0.22) per minute, and will increase to €0.29 ($0.33) per minute this September.

VW’s new mobility service can benefit the firm in two ways:

  • The German automaker is turning to mobility services, like ride- and car-sharing, to combat stagnating auto sales. In 2018, VW sold 6.24 million vehicles, up only 0.2% year-over-year (YoY) from 6.23 million in 2017. Moreover, in the first three months of 2019, VW saw its global sales drop 2.8% YoY to 2.6 million vehicles. To shore up revenue, VW is entering a growing mobility space — there are almost 2.5 millionregistered car-sharing users in Germany alone, up around 14% YoY. In addition to car sharing, VW is also working on a ride-sharing service in Hamburg that utilizes a fleet of electric vans. And it’s not alone in its mobility strategy: In January 2019, Daimler and BMW merged their respective car-sharing services — car2go and DriveNow — to form a joint venture called Share Now, which boasts a fleet of over 20,000 vehicles.
  • VW’s investment in putting EVs in front of consumers could help the company drive revenue from future EV sales. VW is betting big on EVs with its investment projected to total more than €30 billion ($34 billion) by 2023. Moreover, the company plans to create 70 EV models in the next 10 years, accounting for around 22 million vehicles. To ensure it can cash in on the EV investment, VW is pursuing a strategy of familiarizing consumers with electric cars and assuaging any potential consumer concerns. That could make consumers more likely to purchase EVs in the future.

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