Volkswagen. Picture: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT
Volkswagen. Picture: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT

Frankfurt/Berlin — Volkswagen (VW) mapped out details of its transformation from a mass manufacturer of cars to a provider of transportation services, by unveiling a car-sharing service and promising digital acquisitions as part of a €3.5bn push into next-generation vehicles.

The plan will kick off in Berlin, where the manufacturer will put 2,000 all-electric vehicles on the road by the second quarter of 2019 under the We Share label, competing with the DriveNow and Car2Go offerings of Daimler and BMW.

VW plans to start technology partnerships in 2018, with purchases likely "clearly before Christmas", Juergen Stackmann, head of sales at the VW namesake brand, said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

"We will be a device and software company," Michael Jost, the VW brand’s strategy chief, said at a Berlin media conference introducing the car-sharing programme. "To deal with this development, we need to reinvent the automobile."

The We banner will be used for a package of mobile applications that VW customers can access with a single sign-on and that will be available for both conventional vehicles as well as the company’s new electric cars. Services will include electronic payment for parking, in-car package delivery, fuel-price tracking and localised deals from retailers. The project has a goal of generating €1bn in annual revenue by 2025.

We Share will be a "major user" of VW’s ID sub-brand of electric models, Stackmann said.

"Our mission is to become zero-emission, as much as we can, and this service will help us to get there," he said.

Bloomberg