Volkswagen will launch its own car-sharing service in Germany next year, using only electric vehicles, according to the automaker. An expansion to "major cities" in North America, Europe, and Asia is planned for 2020. The car-sharing service is just one of what VW promises will be many mobility services under its new We sub-brand.
"We are convinced that the car-sharing market still has potential," Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann said in a statement. He added that "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."
Stackmann did not say which vehicles would be used in the car-sharing service, but Volkswagen is planning to launch multiple all-electric models based on the recent family of I.D. concept cars over the next few years. Europe will likely get the I.D. hatchback first, with the I.D. Crozz crossover, Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz, and I.D. Vizzion sedan following after that. The automaker plans to launch 50 all-electric models across multiple brands by 2025.
VW plans to offer other services beyond car sharing but hasn't committed to anything specific yet. A company press release mentioned a scooter-sharing service using production versions of the I.D. Cityskater and I.D. Streetmate concepts, as well as a parking app, as two possibilities. Volkswagen is also developing another sub-brand, Moia, that will focus on ride-hailing and shuttle services. The company is also rumored to be in talks with Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing about coordinating mobility services.
The Volkswagen announcement comes shortly after Volvo's announcement of its own M mobility brand, which will initially focus on car sharing. General Motors' Maven already operates car-sharing services in the U.S. and Canada, and BMW and Daimler are teaming up on mobility services. Automakers seem to realize that services like car sharing and ride-hailing may erode new-car sales, and don't want to be left behind by that trend.