e-car sharing in rural areas works perfectly with the e-Golf. The municipality of Tarmstedt has been providing evidence of that since 2015 already. Now, after three years of success, the project here in the flatlands between Hamburg and Bremen is entering a new phase. With the launch of the collaboration with mobility services provider Greenwheels, a total of eight e-Golf are now available to book and drive around the clock at seven locations.
Flashback: In 2015, a Volkswagen dealer in Tarmstedt by the name of Wolf Warncke, and Traugott Riedesel, a rural doctor from Wilstedt, happened to be sitting next to each other at a gospel concert. Shortly before, Wolf Warncke had given an interview to a major newspaper on the subject of mobility in rural areas, and Riedesel couldn’t even wait till the concert was finished to address Warncke by saying: “Let’s do that together!” Because for both men, Warncke and Riedesel, it is one mission that drives them: “We want to promote a sense of excitement for e-mobility. After all, sustainable mobility is about more than just selling cars,” is how Warncke describes it. “We would like to provide our citizens here in the countryside with new, interesting options for their individual mobility in view of the reduction in railroad services and cutbacks in bus schedules,” Riedesel says.
After their initial discussion, things started moving very quickly. Volkswagen dealer Warncke organized favorable leasing rates for the e-Golf through a sponsorship project. He and Riedesel personally leased the first two e-Golf for their own use in May 2015. They installed charging stations on their properties and a quick-charging station (“80 percent charge in 20 minutes”) using free green energy from the regional utility company EWE. And, at the same time, they offered their cars as rentals.
What was viewed at first with some skepticism established itself quickly. The distinctive and stylish white e-Golf were being used more and more often in Tarmstedt, Wilstedt, Buchholz, Vorwerk and Bülstedt. That in turn attracted the attention of even more residents and newcomers to the project. Today the e-Golf have long since become genuine eye-catchers in Tarmstedt.
The business model behind the scheme was and is simple: the lessees pay the installments and in return they receive the revenue for the rental. As a result, it was only a matter of time before more interested parties also signed up to take part. Deacon Claus Wahlers in Bülstedt was the third person to lease an e-Golf and installed a charging station on his farm. As a trained electrician, Wahlers even placed solar modules on the roof of his home in order to produce 100 percent green energy himself. Early retiree Ulrich Kaschner also leased an e-Golf and made it available for rent. So now there were four rental locations in the area, with a total of five cars. Due to high demand, country doctor Riedesel quickly started leasing a second e-Golf. “Doing so increases availability for my customers, and gives them a sense of security that they’ll always get an e-Golf when they need one,” is Traugott Riedesel’s reasoning.
“In only a short time we had already circumnavigated the globe with each single e-Golf – that is, driven more than 35,000 kilometers,” says Wolf Warncke in response to the question of how often the cars are used. The e-car-sharing users have covered a total of more than 210,000 kilometers between 2015 and now with the cars. Routes taken in the countryside are no fewer in number than the ones in urban areas: trips to the doctor, to go shopping, to various authorities, birthday parties, sports events or workouts, to visit friends, to go to work, school or to day care. The current range of around 230 kilometers (WLTP) has not yet been found to be an obstacle – the diameter of the municipality of Tarmstedt measures around 25 kilometers. And of course the e-car-sharing users can also use the e-Golf to drive to the North Sea or to Bavaria upon request. To that end they are provided with free additional information on where in Germany charging stations are available during the trip.
To increase the accessibility and enable reservations and rentals around the clock, the initiators launched their next big project in February of this year. Wolf Warncke sought professional support from the car-sharing provider Greenwheels, which furnishes cars for sharing under the slogan “A car for everybody”. In the meantime, Greenwheels has become the market leader in the Netherlands with more than 2,500 vehicles. The Volkswagen subsidiary already has more than 700 rental cars available in Germany. “Tarmstedt is now our first German e-car offer,” says General Manager Alexander Hinz. “We provide the users with more convenience when booking. And our three different rates for infrequent, occasional and frequent drivers ensure that everyone finds the offer best suited to them. It is important to note that rentals do not get more expensive by using our platform.”
The collaboration has been successful: Since August 17th eight e-Golf can now be booked via Greenwheels at seven locations in Tarmstedt. The reason is that there are meanwhile additional e-Golf and other rental locations, such as the village shop in Rhade and the mayor’s office in Tarmstedt. “We won a competition called ‘Unser Dorf hat Zukunft’ [roughly ‘Our village has great prospects’]. We used the prize money to install the e-charging station at the village store and finance the power,” reports Raphaela Vink, Deputy Mayor, with some pride. The 26-year-old is just as enthusiastic about driving the e-Golf as are the committed pensioners Horst Schäfer and Rolf Heinz, the latter saying: “I like using the e-Golf as a second car.” Schäfer and Heinz are also the ones who kept pushing to make the village store work both as a place to shop and as a meeting place for the locals. “That makes it ideal for setting up a location to rent an e-Golf here,” says Schäfer.
And Frank Holle, Mayor of the municipality, has now traded in his previous combustion-engine official car for an e-Golf: “Of course, we’re also happy to rent it out on weekends,” he remarks.
Warncke, Riedesel, Wahlers, Kaschner, Holle, Schäfer, Heinz, Vink, Fromm and all the others: they are as diverse a group as e-Golf drivers in general, representing a cross section of the population, with general managers, doctors, engineers, mayors, pensioners, semi-retired people – young singles as well as parents or grandparents. The local pastor, Benjamin Fromm, is truly enthusiastic about the e-Golf in e-car sharing: “Financially it’s very appealing to me. I’d also like to support anything that ensures mobility with alternative fuels in rural areas,” says the pastor. And then Fromm, who is in his mid-thirties, lets his youthful enthusiasm for driving hang out: “Do you have any idea how crazy fast this car goes? It takes off like a rocket! The acceleration is just insane. At the same time it’s so quiet!,” Pastor Fromm gushes about his outings with the e-Golf. And adds: “I think e-car sharing is a thousand times better than car sharing.”
Deacon Claus Wahlers is no less enthusiastic about the driving performance of his e-Golf. As an experienced tradesman, however, he is more pragmatic and names solid reasons why e-car sharing works even better in the countryside than in the city: “The people here have large areas for photovoltaic systems. Many produce their own electricity – 100 percent ecologically. People who want to enjoy peace and quiet and clean air tend to move here. e-cars provide them with that.”
Wolf Warncke and Traugott Riedesel are as happy about their growing number of customers as they are about the increasing number of active comrades-in-arms for their successful project. “Our lessees are meanwhile now printing their own flyers. And also distributing them to the mailboxes themselves on Saturdays,” Warncke says. Despite so much commitment, the best advertising is still word-of-mouth recommendations. According to country doctor and co-initiator Riedesel, “Those who drive an e-Golf once will never want to drive anything else.”
Wolf Warncke, initiator and Volkswagen dealer, can give his protagonists good tidings: “In one or two years, Volkswagen will be delivering high numbers of pure e-cars. The ranges and driving characteristics will continue to improve quickly.” That’s what all the participants are happy to hear. In any event, two things are clear to the e-Golf users in the municipality of Tarmstedt. First, car sharing in rural areas works especially well with e-mobility. And secondly, electric cars are absolutely reliable and suited to everyday life.
It’s really easy:
e-Golf: Electricity consumption, kWh/100 km: combined 13.2; CO₂ emissions combined, g/km: 0; Efficiency class: A+