Previously Volkswagen has announced an electric car-sharing service, now the company is officially launching its fleet for customers debuting WeShare, a new shared service similar to Car2Go or GM’s Maven. It is only featuring all-electric vehicles, initially, WeShare would available only in Berlin, where it’s launching today with 1,500 Volkswagen e-Golf cars making up the on-demand rental fleet.
The plan is to add 500 cars more for the available people by the start of next year. In addition to 1500 e-Golfs cars, VW’s upcoming ID.3 electric hatchback model will launch in mid-2020. By that time, the WeShare Berlin fleet will feature more than 2,000 EVs on city streets. In terms of new geography, WeShare will look to launch in Prague in partnership with VW Group sub-brand Skoda and also in Hamburg, both somewhere in 2020.
The introductory price of 19c per minute would be in place until September when higher rates will increase to around 29c per minute. The service won’t use fixed rental stations, instead, they relying on Berlin’s existing electric infrastructure. Presently, the city has more than 800 charging points that are powered by renewable resources.
Moreover, WeShare has a coverage area which includes the Berlin city center and a little bit beyond the Ringbahn train line that surrounds it. The cars are available in a free-floating arrangement, it means that they would be free to pick up and wherever the public parking is available. This one-way model is the one used by competitor Car2go and is distinct from the round-trip style rentals preferred by Zipcar. For example, it is easier for customers but difficult for operators who have to worry about ensuring cars remain in the rental zone and are parked appropriately and legally.
Also, WeShare takes the responsibility of recharging vehicles and will use public charging which is available in Berlin. Later, it needs to incentive actual users of the system to charge up when vehicles need it. Car sharing specifically One-way has not a good track record, Car2go has discontinued its operations in Toronto and Chicago. It is all because incompatibility with city operations related to the parking case of Toronto, and rampant cases of fraud in Chicago that resulted in cars being used to commit crimes.
On the other hand, Volkswagen noted the release of cars in Berlin as the number of car sharing users has grown from 180,000 people in 2010 to 2.46 million in early 2019. The company has also run a fully electric ridesharing service called MOIA, which has built its own fit-for-purpose vehicle and which currently operates in Hamburg and Hanover. The previous year, the company said two mobility service operations, which work on very different service models, will work together in the future.