In 2010, 180,000 Germans owned cars designated as carsharing vehicles. At the beginning of 2019, there were 2.46 million. Carsharing is growing and Volkswagen has just given it a significant boost by adding 1,500 e-Golf electric cars to its WeShare fleet in Berlin. Adding a bit of luster to the announcement is this fact: all of those cars will be recharged by electricity derived from renewable energy sources. The WeShare cars will recharge using the Berlin public charging network, including newly installed charging points at 70 Lidl and Kaufland grocery stores.
According to WeShare, Volkswagen will add 500 e-up electric cars to the Berlin fleet at the beginning of 2020 as well as the first of its ID.3 electric cars when they enter production later that year. WeShare uses a “free-floating” platform that has no fixed rental stations. Instead, it is digitally managed via an app.
“With WeShare, we have tailored car sharing to meet the needs of users: easy to use with 100 percent electric operation on green power,” said Christian Senger, Volkswagen board member for digital car and services, in a press release. “With such a consistent, broad offering, we stand out from the competition. We are outstandingly well-positioned to participate in the expanding car sharing market.”
Initially, the carsharing vehicles will cost 19 cents per minute with a minimum charge of one euro per trip. Starting in September, the tariffs will fall into three categories. Volkswagen has so far only referred to an “average price per minute of 29 cents,” including insurance. The 150 square kilometer service area covers most of the center of Berlin. Once the fleet grows bigger, so will the service area according to Volkswagen. Later next year, Volkswagen plans to expand its WeShare service to Prague using cars from its Skoda brand and then to Hamburg.
As CleanTechnica behind-the-scenes contributor Benjamin Schulz points out, each carsharing vehicle has the potential to displace 10 to 15 privately owned cars within its service area, along with all the fossil fuels they would otherwise burn. Is the day approaching when people will give up private car ownership and simply gravitate to a transportation as a service model? In some situations, especially in the world’s most congested cities, that is a distinct possibility.
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