- Volkswagen launched a car-sharing program, WeShare, consisting solely of electric vehicles (EVs).
- Operations commenced in Berlin, Germany, with 1,500 VW e-Golf vehicles, and the intention to add 500 e-up! vehicles next year. The company's new electric vehicle, ID.3, will be added when it is released, which is expected to happen next year.
- WeShare's expansion into Prague, Czech Republic, and Hamburg, Germany, is also slated for next year.
Initially, WeShare employees will locate and charge cars with low batteries. As the program matures, customers will receive incentives for charging the vehicles themselves.
WeShare's model resembles that of popular car-sharing companies in the United States such as Car2Go and Zipcar. But unlike some other models, WeShare is a free-floating system so users do not have to pick up or drop off vehicles at fixed collection points.
The car-sharing sector has become crowded in the past few years, especially since peer-to-peer car-sharing services entered the industry. Recent reports indicate the car-sharing market is still "booming" globally, despite some contraction, like Maven exiting eight North American markets in May.
Companies wishing to differentiate themselves and cater to an increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer base have introduced and expanded their EV options. But car-sharing programs consisting entirely of EVs remain a rarity. One exception is Gig Car Share, which launched in Sacramento, CA in April with a fleet of 260 Chevy Bolts.
Volkswagen's WeShare stands to boost not only interest in the car-sharing program, but also EVs in general. Promoting the incorporation of yet-to-be-released vehicles could create a buzz about the company's new EVs. This complements Volkswagen's previous work to promote EVs, such as when its subsidiary, Electrify America, launched an advertising campaign last year about the availability of the vehicles and related infrastructure.
EVs are gaining favor across America and more cities are pushing for their use through EV readiness requirements for new buildings, upgrades to EV infrastructure and transitioning transit and city-owned fleets to electric. Lyft, Uber and taxis are increasingly adding electric options to their portfolios. The desire will likely continue to spill over into the car-sharing industry and drive further EV fleet expansions.