Volkswagen confirms 2019 launch of an all-electric car-share service

  • Volkswagen has confirmed all-electric car-share service for Berlin, starting in 2019.
  • The German auto giant said fleets will then be rolled out to other cities in Europe and North America.
  • It is the first service to operate as a part of VW's cloud-based "We Share" system.

Volkswagen has confirmed the launch of a new e-mobility car-sharing service in Berlin, as the German automaker looks to move beyond traditional vehicle ownership.

The VW brand, which makes up around half of sales generated by the parent Volkswagen Group, said 1,500 e-Golf cars will be rolled out onto streets of the German capital during the second quarter of 2019.

Volkswagen said in a press release Thursday that within two years the number of available all-electric cars in the city will grow to 2,000. The firm added that by 2020 it will launch the service in further cities in Germany, other parts of Europe, as well as select locations in North America.

A promotional still of Volkswagen's e-mobility car share service, set to begin in 2019.
Volkswagen Group
A promotional still of Volkswagen's e-mobility car share service, set to begin in 2019.

The company has predicted 15 percent annual growth in Europe for on-demand vehicles. Car-sharing has become a major play for auto firms who predict that younger customers, especially those living in cities, are less interested in committing to a large capital outlay for a car.

The French auto manufacturers PSA and Renault are competing to launch an electric car-share service in Paris, while BMW is set to team up with Daimler's Mercedes brand to produce its own mobility service.

Volkswagen said each of its electric vehicles will pass data to-and-from the cloud-based operating system, harvesting personal data from customers, such as the length and time of trips taken.

The service is the first offering of Volkswagen's "WE platform" eco-system that may eventually include electric scooters as well as ride-hailing, carpooling and parking services.

VW Brand board member Juergen Stackmann told CNBC's Annette Weisbach in Berlin on Thursday that he expected the platform to host 5 million new customers each year and would be a "rapid growing, massive eco-system," before adding that data would be controlled "by the customer themselves."

Stackmann said VW had already invested several billion euros in its ecosystem but would now need to make new partnerships to help it work.

He told CNBC that a major merger and acquisition announcement would be revealed in the coming months that would help the auto firm solve how to securely connect its cars to the cloud-based server.

A second partnership is expected to be revealed by the end of this year, which Stackmann said would focus on how Volkswagen's new suite of services can interact with customers.