With the multi-billion dollar takeover of the rental car company Europcar, Volkswagen wants to become a leading mobility provider.

CEO Herbert Diess announced on Thursday that the European car rental company would be converted into a platform for offers related to car sharing, ridesharing and subscription models.

Volkswagen does not want to buy a rental car business, he said.

"It's about leveraging synergies for new mobility services."

Carsten Germis

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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With the takeover, the French company, which already belonged to the Wolfsburg-based group 15 years ago, will become the core of the new strategy with which Diess is preparing the carmaker for the change in mobility, it said.

A consortium led by Volkswagen had agreed the previous evening with the Europcar owners on the price for the takeover.

Europcar has a fleet of more than 350,000 vehicles and more than 3,500 rental stations in more than 140 countries with more than five million customers a year.

Diess intends to build a platform on the basis of this network on which offers from rental cars to car sharing can be booked.

Volkswagen needs a platform that can meet the growing demand, but also offer a wide range of offers.

Other services are to be integrated into Europcar

He expects the market to grow quickly, said Diess. “The mobility market is changing rapidly.” Customers increasingly wanted new offers, for example subscription or sharing models as an alternative to their own car. Europcar has a wide network of locations at airports, train stations and in city centers. "This will help us to achieve our ambitious goals for expanding mobility services more quickly," said Diess.

Other automotive companies are also adjusting to changing usage behavior, especially among younger customers who no longer own cars but want to rent or subscribe for a short period of time. Volkswagen already has car sharing activities under the WeShare brand in some cities and has been offering ridesharing services for some time in Hamburg and Hanover with the shared taxis of the Group subsidiary Moia. The problem: The expansion is only progressing slowly, and the business hardly generates any money in the initial phase. Volkswagen therefore wants to quickly integrate WeShare and other services into Europcar.

"The combination of rental and car sharing is probably the only way to make car sharing profitable," said Diess in a conference call with journalists on the occasion of the presentation of the business figures for the first half of the year.

One of the competitors that VW already had an eye on is also on the way.

Europcar is worth almost three billion

The Munich car rental company Sixt already has a mobility platform with which the classic rental business, car sharing and driving services are to grow together.

Cars can also be subscribed to.

Volkswagen, together with the London-based asset manager Attestor Limited and the Dutch mobility provider Pon Holdings, is offering Europcar owners 50 cents per share as partners, which would make the Paris-based company worth 2.5 billion euros.