Volkswagen is to offer a car-sharing service where fleets of all-electric vehicles are available on-demand in major cities across the US, Europe and Asia.
As the company takes another step to clean up its image after the diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen says the electric car-sharing service will start in its native German in 2019, before spreading to major cities in Europe, North America and Asia from 2020.
- What is Electrify America? How the VW diesel scandal spawned a $2bn US car charging network
- Eight electric cars to get excited about in 2018
Called WE, the service claims to offer mobility solutions no matter what the customer has planned. For example, VW said how cars can be borrowed for a short journey of just a few minutes, or for much longer for a driving vacation.
The entire fleet will be made up of fully-electric, zero-emissions vehicles. Although VW hasn't said what vehicles will be offered, the announcement was made alongside an image of the company's ID hatchback concept, above, with the WE logo on its side.
ID is Volkswagen's all-electric sub-brand, with the 370-mile range hatchback going into production at the end of 2019. The timing here clearly lines up neatly with VW's plans for the car-sharing scheme.
As well as cars, the ID sub-brand includes 'micro-mobility solutions' like the Streetmate, left and Cityskater, right.Volkswagen
"We are convinced that the car sharing market still has potential," said VW board member for sales, Jürgen Stackmann. "That is why we are entering this market with a holistic single-source concept covering all mobility needs from the short journey that takes just a few minutes to the long vacation trip.
"Our vehicle-on-demand fleets will consist entirely of electric cars, and will therefore provide zero-emission, sustainable mobility. That is an intelligent way to relieve the strain on urban areas."
Away from cars, Volkswagen also wants to be a leader in smaller 'micro-mobility solutions'. The company recently presented the ID Streetmate and ID Cityskater, a pair of kick-scooters for navigating city streets.
Also this week, Renault announced plans for a ride-hailing and car-sharing service of its own. The company plans to launch a service in Paris towards the end of 2018, allowing drivers to pick up a pre-booked electric car at one location and drop it somewhere else in the city.