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Volkswagen announces ride-sharing partnership

Game on: Volkswagen will provide a fleet of 16 vehicles consisting of the Golf (left) and Passat in conjunction with UniCar’s Australian trial.

Gold Coast to play host to ride-sharing partnership between VW and UniCar

9 Apr 2018

VOLKWAGEN Australia has announced its entry into the ride-sharing space, being appointed the preferred supplier for Singapore-based ride-sharing company UniCar upon its arrival to the Australian market.

The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will play host to the initial pilot program, which will see Volkswagen provide 16 vehicles to be used as a toe-in-the-water exercise for UniCar.

While the pilot program will last throughout April, it is expected that the partnership will grow to offer a wider fleet of vehicles in coming months.

According to Volkswagen, the partnership has been in the pipeline for “some time”, and will use a fleet of Golf and Passat models in the initial trial.

Volkswagen Australia director Michael Bartsch said the partnership was an important step for Volkswagen as the industry transitions to providing mobility solutions.

“Ridesharing is but one facet of the way our industry is changing, as brands transition from being simply manufacturers and sellers of cars, to be able to offer a wide range of personal mobility solutions,” he said.

“Partnering with UniCar is a great first step as we continue to evolve to the industry and business needs of the future.”

UniCar says it differentiates itself from other ride-sharing companies by being set up to reward drivers and passengers, including allowing flexible work arrangements for drivers attending university, and working with the government to reduce drivers’ HECS debts.

It also claims to donate three per cent “of all rideshares to charity, to ensure we create a positive global impact and continue to back the community”.

Volkswagen follows in the footsteps of other manufacturers who have partnered with ride-sharing platforms, such as Volvo who teamed up with Uber to share technology on developing driverless cars.

Uber’s driverless car program has experienced a number of stumbling blocks, the largest of which occurred last month when an XC90 test mule struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, resulting in a suspension of the program.

Jaguar Land Rover partnered with Uber rival Lyft, announcing last year a $US25 million ($A32.5m) investment in the company that will help JLR develop its autonomous technology similarly to Volvo, while providing Lyft with a fleet of vehicles.

General Motors also has serious tie-ins with Lyft, investing a whopping $US500m ($A650m) to help leverage its own global ride owning and sharing service called Maven, which officially launched in Australia last September.

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