In 2019, Volkswagen will launch an electric car-sharing in Berlin called "We Share" with 1,500 e-Golf vehicles, it announced. The service will expand afterwards with 500 e-up! cars, and eventually offer VW's next-gen I.D. EVs. "From 2020, 'We Share' is to support the market introduction of the new generation of our new, all-electric I.D. models and thus make a significant contribution to the Volkswagen brand's e-mobility offensive," said VW's Jürgen Stackmann.
VW plans to launch the service in major cities in North America and Europe, too. By doing so, it will create an instant market for its I.D. electric cars when they arrive in 2020. The company has a lot riding on the new brand, so a ride-sharing service will generate a lot of buzz and get young consumers interested in the brand.
In the US, GM did something similar by launching its Maven car-sharing service for both Bolt EVs and gas-powered cars. It started as a Zipcar-like sharing service, but expanded this year, allowing owners to rent out their cars and make some cash. Other companies, including BMW and Renault, have promised similar services in Europe and elsewhere.
Volkswagen said it will use a "free-folating" structure so that customers can access EVs at any time. Down the line, it will offer smaller, cheaper vehicles as part of a "micromobility" solution. "The prospects for vehicle on demand services are very good," said VW Mobilie CEO Philipp Reth. "The most conservative forecasts for Europe predict annual growth of 15 percent."
"Green vehicles for everyone" sounds great, but automakers should be wary of the potential dangers. The Autolib' EV-sharing service launched in Paris with great fanfare (and snappy Pininfarina-designed Bluecars), but the operator lost a fortune and it closed for good on July 31st, 2018.