Volkswagen has talked a big game about the future of mobility, but when it comes to nascent schemes like car sharing, it hasn't really rolled out much. BMW and Daimler, on the other hand, are throwing down more than $1 billion to . So what is Volkswagen to do? Well, it had better start playing catch-up, which it appears to be doing.
VW announced on Thursday that it is entering the car-sharing market with WeShare. Starting in Berlin, WeShare will only offer electric vehicles to people, going a bit above and beyond the average car-sharing service, which tends to have a mix of vehicle types available. It's starting with a fleet of 1,500 e-Golf compact hatchbacks, and in the future, it will add 500 e-Up! subcompact hatchbacks. Then, after comes online, that will join the fleet, as well. In 2020, WeShare will expand to both Prague and Hamburg.
For now, the service is limited to a 150-square-kilometer (roughly 58-square-mile) chunk of the Berlin area, focusing on the city center and expanding beyond the city's ring train line. People looking to use the service need to have both a phone and a credit card, they must be at least 21 years old, they must be licensed for over a year and they need a permanent address in Germany. WeShare will cost 0.19 euro (about $0.22) per minute to start, but in September, it'll expand to three different pricing tiers averaging about 0.29 euro (about $0.33) per minute. Registration fees and airport fees will be waived.
Since the vehicles are electric, they'll need to be charged, which will happen on public chargers. To that end, WeShare is working with two grocery chains, Lidl and Kaufland, to add public charging points at over 70 locations for easier access to electrons. WeShare employees will collect and charge vehicles with low batteries, but eventually, VW wants to add incentives for people who charge cars themselves.
While VW might be behind in car-sharing compared to BMW and Daimler, that's not to say Volkswagen isn't exploring future mobility ideas in other ways. In May, VW, which aims to ensure future methods of transportation are built with all groups in mind. The company is also working to in the near future. And then there's Moia, the VW Group brand dedicated to ride-hailing, which with loads of space for up to six passengers.