The Volkswagen Group has already succeeded in doing this in Berlin with the WeShare pilot project since 2019 – so effectively, in fact, that fully electric vehicle sharing will be available in Hamburg starting February 25. Volkswagen is accelerating the rollout of both environmentally friendly e-mobility and new mobility services in equal measure.
Volkswagen’s car-sharing service will continue to grow in Europe’s big cities. However, the Corona virus put the brakes on WeShare’s expansion plans.
“Due to the Corona pandemic, we are unfortunately only able to launch in Hamburg with a delay of around one year. We are all the more pleased that things are finally getting underway,” says Philipp Reth, CEO of WeShare, Volkswagen’s car sharing service.
Hamburg was not only a German pioneer metropolis for free floating car sharing, i.e. car sharing with flexible start and return points. Many innovative mobility concepts were put on the road here. With its all-electric fleet, WeShare intends to play an important role in Hamburg’s service mix in the future. Around 800 electric ID.3 vehicles will be on the road in an environmentally friendly manner.
Berlin: Mobility in lockdown
In 2019, WeShare was launched in Berlin. Corona came shortly after. “We had drops in rentals of around 50 percent in March 2020, in the first few weeks after the lockdown. During that time, there was virtually no ordinary demand for mobility,” says Philipp Reth, explaining the situation about a year ago. “But crises always offer opportunities, too – if you only seize them. We reacted quickly at the time, temporarily expanding the business area, reducing the stopover price, i.e. the price while parking, to five cents and, for example, distributing vouchers to staff at the Charité hospital, German Red Cross clinics and the Berlin accident and emergency hospitals.” Charité employees alone used WeShare around 25,000 times, covering a quarter of a million kilometers.
The crisis turned into an unexpected opportunity Reth: “We gained many new fans and loyal users for WeShare. By the end of 2020, we had twice as many customers and utilizations as before the crisis began.”
There are now well over 100,000 people registered with WeShare In Berlin. Around half of them use WeShare at least once a month. In these times of crisis, many people see car sharing as a safe and reliable addition to their mobility. For good reasons: The vehicles are within walking distance. In addition, the cleaning and disinfection intervals of the vehicles have been shortened. According to Reth, there was no reluctance or fear to use the vehicles during the pandemic.
Whether Berlin or Hamburg: This is how WeShare works
Anyone who is 21 or older and has held a driving license valid in the EU for at least one year can register online. Users do not need a key or card – everything works app-based: From registration to the rental process, everything runs digitally and easily via smartphone. During the trip, the minutes are billed, but daily rentals for longer trips are also possible. As is usual with free-floating car sharing, there are no fixed pick-up and drop-off stations; the rental is simply terminated within the business area.