More automakers join the EV car sharing market, as UK plug-in car sales continue to grow at the expense of further declining diesel sales
Yet more automotive manufacturers are shifting lanes and moving into the car sharing market it seems, with both German carmaker Volkswagen and France's Peugeot-Citroën Automobiles (PSA) separately announcing upcoming plans to launch electric vehicle (EV) sharing services in recent days.
The news comes as a further boost to an EV sector that is today also celebrating the latest UK sales figures which show strong growth for plug-in and hybrid vehicles at the expense of diesels.
Volkswagen yesterday revealed it would be launching zero emission car sharing services in Germany next year, before an international rollout from 2020 initially covering major cities in Europe, North America, and Asia.
The VW sharing fleet will consist entirely of EVs, the carmaker said, and will be backed by an expansion of its WE/We vehicle-on-demand customer platform, which could in future offer 'micro-mobility solutions' such as parking, location, ride hailing, and pooling services.
Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen brand board member for sales, made the announcement in Berlin yesterday, hailing the huge potential of the car sharing market. "That is why we are entering this market with a holistic single-source concept covering all mobility needs from the short journey that takes just a few minutes to the long vacation trip," he said. "Our vehicle-on-demand fleets will consist entirely of electric cars, and will therefore provide zero-emission, sustainable mobility. That is an intelligent way to relieve the strain on urban areas."
It follows a similar announcement from rival PSA Group yesterday, which said it plans to launch its Free2Move EV car sharing service in Paris during the final quarter of this year with an initial fleet of 500 Peugeot and Citroën electric vehicles.
The Free2Move mobility brand was first launched in 2016 and now counts more than one million customers across 10 countries worldwide with a fleet of 65,000 vehicles. However, the new Paris service will mark the first Free2Move service that uses only electric cars.
Brigitte Courtehoux, PSA Group executive committee member, said the rollout was made possible due to close work with Paris' City Hall, which has been seeking to reduce the impact of air pollution in across the French capital.
"After the launch of Free2Move App, we are providing Parisians with our know-how in urban mobility," she said. "It means a sustainable and high quality of electric car-sharing service. This is possible thanks to the good collaboration we have established with the Paris City Hall."
The moves come as the latest official sales figures for the UK car market today revealed a 45 per cent increase in plug-in and hybrid registrations in June. Overall, EV and hybrid sales are up almost a quarter over the course of 2018.
The growing popularity of low emission mobility in the UK comes despite an overall decline in the car market, precipitated largely by another major drop off in diesel sales, which - amid growing consumer concerns about air pollution - have fallen around 30 per cent during the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2017.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade body SMMT, praised the increasing demand for low emission vehicles amid a "rocky first six months for the new car market", but warned consumer uncertainty over future policy towards diesel cars was hurting the sector.
"Given [plug-in hybrids and EVs] still represent only one in 20 registrations, however, they cannot yet have the impact in driving down overall emissions that conventional vehicles, including diesels, continue to deliver," he said.
Separately, Jaguar Land Rover today warned that Brexit uncertainty was undermining its investment plans and that a Hard Brexit could force it to relocate factories. The carmaker said it needed certainty before it could invest in its plans to develop electric vehicles in the UK, according to the Financial Times.
But elsewhere, there are further indications that even major oil firms are keen for a more rapid shift away from combustion engines, with Shell CEO Ben van Beurden reportedly coming out in support of the UK government bringing forward its proposed ban on diesel and petrol sales much earlier than 2040.
And in response to @adamvaughan_uk's question, Ben van Beurden says the UK should bring the 2040 ban forward.— Dustin Benton (@dustin_benton) 5 July 2018
As diesel sales continue to drop off and all major car manufacturers and even some oil companies further shift their business towards shared, low emission vehicles and service offerings, the evidence is mounting that the global mobility market is on the cusp of a major low carbon revolution.
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