BERLIN, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Volkswagen Group will invest billions of euros in a range of new digital services involving its vehicles, the Wolfsburg-based company announced on Thursday.
Juergen Stackmann, head of sales at the Volkswagen flagship brand, told press in Berlin that the carmaker planned to spend 3.5 billion euros (4 billion U.S. dollars) on the digitalization offensive until 2025. Volkswagen hopes that resulting products will boost earnings even further at the German automotive giant.
Amongst others, Volkswagen is planning to launch a "We Share" car sharing platform in Berlin with a purely electric fleet of vehicles at the start of next year. The service is then scheduled to be expanded to select European and American city centers with more than one million inhabitants from 2020 onwards.
Volkswagen is thus entering an increasingly crowded car sharing market in Germany which is currently dominated by the Daimler and BMW subsidiaries Car2Go and DriveNow. In an unusual move for the rival luxury car makers, Daimler and BMW have recently announced the merger of their respective car sharing businesses.
While Volkswagen may be lagging behind the competition on car sharing, however, it is the only industry representative which has begun to offer ride-sharing services through its Moia start-up in Hannover. Moia was founded as a digital carpooling alternative to public transportation providers, conventional taxis services and new market entrants like Uber.
Customers use a mobile phone application to order Moia vehicles to a virtual stopping place in their geographical proximity. A specially developed algorithm ensures that drivers only collect passengers whose destinations all fall along a similar route.
In the coming years, Moia wants to gradually raise the number of its vehicles and customers in Hannover.