Volkswagen becomes latest automaker to enter car-sharing business

Volkswagen has become the latest automaker to launch a car-sharing service, announcing plans for a scheme in the German city of Hannover.

Named 'Quicar', the service will offer residents access to 200 short-term rental vehicles across the city in 50 locations, although Volkswagen says that number could reach 100 in the coming years.

The first model on offer will be the VW Golf Bluemotion, one of the automaker's most eco-efficient models which offers a fuel consumption of just 3.8l/100km, emissions of 99g/km and start-stop engines.

In the future, other models such as the VW Caddy and the new VW Beetle will be added to the fleet, which can be booked for use online and accessed using a chip card held by the driver.

Car sharing programs have boomed in popularity in recent years and are now commonplace in many cities, rapidly gaining popularity with those who need a vehicle only infrequently.

Critically, they are expected to play an important role in facilitating the take-up of electric vehicles, as many drivers' first experience of using an EV could come from car-sharing schemes.

Last year, business analyst Frost & Sullivan predicted that 5.5 million Europeans will be part of a car sharing scheme in 2016, with every third vehicle added to the schemes from next year likely to be electric.

That will give Europe some 77,000 shared vehicles, suggested the report, one in five of them running on electricity rather than gas.

It's no surprise then, that automakers are moving quickly to ensure that they have some control over such a booming industry.

Daimler announced last month that it is to set up Europe's largest EV-sharing program in Amsterdam, following the success of its gas-based car2go program in Ulm and Hamburg in Germany and Austin, TX in the US.

Peugeot also offers MU, a car-sharing service available in British, French and German cities, while in March BMW announced a tie-up with Sixt for DriveNow, a scheme which went live in Munich in April.

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