“WeShare” is a free-floating carsharing concept. “Free-floating” means that there are no fixed collection points where cars have to be picked-up or returned to. The vehicles are parked in public parking spaces. There are so many cars available that the customer can always find one near them. There are already a few of these carsharing services operational in Berlin. The special feature of “WeShare” however, is that the service only offers electric cars.
“With ‘WeShare’, we have tailored carsharing entirely to the needs of users: easy to operate and 100 percent electrically powered by green electricity,” emphasizes Senger. “We stand out from the competition with a range of products and services of this consistency and breadth. This puts us in an excellent position to participate in the expanding carsharing market.”
The “WeShare” business area currently covers around 150 square kilometers – from Berlin’s city center to beyond the municipal rail-transport circle line – and will expand as the vehicle fleet grows. Initially, customers benefited from the attractive tariff of 19 cents per minute and the elimination of the one-off registration fee, as well as the airport fee. Since September, tariffs have been offered in three categories at an average price of 29 cents per minute.
“WeShare” exclusively uses supermarket charging points at night
To charge its fleet, “WeShare” uses Berlin’s public charging network, including 140 current public charging points at 70 branches of the grocery store retailers Lidl and Kaufland. What’s special: Volkswagen exclusively holds the right to use the new infrastructure to charge its “WeShare” fleet overnight outside opening hours. Most of these will be 50 kW fast chargers, on which two vehicles – one at a fast charging point and the other at a normal charging point – can charge simultaneously. During the day, the 140 charging points are available to supermarket customers during the store opening hours. Between 23:00 and 6:30, the “WeShare” vehicle fleet has the exclusive right of use to these.This increases the efficient utilization of the pillars. With the additional charging points from Lidl and Kaufland, the public charging infrastructure in Berlin will grow by almost 20 percent.
“Supermarkets are the fuel stations of the future. The possibility of charging while shopping is an ideal solution. For the e-Golf, an average of just 45 minutes at the fast-charging station is enough. Together with Lidl and Kaufland, we are improving the charging options for customers and especially for our ‘WeShare’ fleet. This is Volkswagen’s next consistent step to equip the public space with charging points nationwide via partnerships,” says Senger.
The ease of use of “WeShare” was piloted by 2,500 exclusive users shortly before the official launch in 2019. The test phase lasted almost two months before it started. The data of all drivers in the test phase were evaluated anonymously at the “WeShare” headquarters and used to optimize the service before the official start, to find weak points, and consequently eliminate them. “In total, the approximately 2,500 active test drivers drove through Berlin on 67 test days,” says Ralph Philipp Reth, CEO of Urban Mobility International. UMI is a subsidiary of Volkswagen and operates “WeShare” in Berlin. Philipp Reth ,“We have learned a lot during this period, not only about usage behavior, but also about behind-the-scenes services: charging and servicing the 1,500 e-Golf models.”
Volkswagen deliberately chose the capital city as the starting point for its carsharing offer. “Berlin offers the ideal market for carsharing due to its large population and density and has the greatest potential,” explains Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Board of Management for Sales of the Volkswagen brand. “Many people live here who have already tried out vehicle sharing – and the numbers are growing all the time.” Following Berlin, “WeShare” is to be introduced in other major cities in Germany and Europe in the future. As a rule, the focus will be on large cities with more than one million inhabitants. Jürgen Stackmann is convinced: “The first service in the “Volkswagen We” ecosystem, which is aimed primarily at non-car owners, will be a success. In the spring of 2020, “WeShare” will bring more than 1,000 electric vehicles to Hamburg, where it will also operate a completely pure electric only fleet.
Volkswagen will continue to expand its ecosystem services in the future. The fact that from 2020 all new models – starting with the fully electric ID.3 – will be connected to the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will make many functions and services technically possible for the first time: from vehicle updates to individually bookable functions that can be activated in the car. More than 1.5 million customers are already registered with “Volkswagen We”, and the number is steadily growing.