BERLIN: German automaker Volkswagen has a stated aim of evolving into a “mobility service provider with a connected fleet” and it has taken two significant steps towards this goal.

The company announced last week that it would invest €3.5bn ($4bn) by 2025 to build digital businesses and services, such as software to facilitate autonomous driving, as well as confirming the launch of an all-electric car-sharing scheme in Berlin.

In a statement outlining details of its digital investment plans, Volkswagen explained that it was working on new IT software, known as “vw.OS”, that would be fitted to its electric car models from 2020.

This new software would dispense with about 70 separate control units and sensors in each vehicle and bring them together into one unified source to improve autonomous driving capabilities.

It would mean, for example, that a future autonomous vehicle could park itself after receiving the relevant data concerning direction, hazards, steering and the brakes.

“We have a clear vision: we will continue to build vastly superior vehicles. But going forward, our Volkswagens will increasingly become digital devices on wheels,” said Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen’s brand board member for sales.

The company senses a major business opportunity by moving into digital services and expects to generate sales of about €1bn by 2025 from car-sharing and other activities. It also intends to start digitally connecting its entire fleet in 2020.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen also unveiled an all-electric car-sharing scheme for Berlin that will see the German capital host 1,500 e-Golf cars from the second quarter of 2019, to be followed up by another 500 e-vehicles at a later date.

Dubbed “We Share”, the programme is aimed at drawing attention to the benefits of e-mobility and Volkswagen plans to extend it to other major cities in Germany before rolling it out to core European markets and selected cities in North America from 2020.

Sourced from Volkswagen; additional content by WARC staff