Would you like to go to work every day in a vehicle in which you can enjoy a cup of coffee, collect your clean laundry, perhaps send a parcel and which, above all, saves you from the stress of traffic problems? No, this isn’t a dream: it is the "X-Shuttle", the new service for commuters that the Volkswagen Group is testing in order to offer a concrete alternative to individual mobility.
At the moment the "X-Shuttle" is used by 30 volunteers, all of whom Volkswagen Group employees that live in the German city of Braunschweig (in the Land of Lower Saxony) and commute every day to Wolfsburg, 40 kilometers away.
“In the past, I have frequently commuted alone in my car or formed a car pool with three colleagues. It worked out well. But, you know, the driver never offered me a cup of coffee!” jokes Wanda Wiera, who uses the “X-Shuttle” every day. Having checked her smartphone, which notifies her that the vehicle is about to arrive, Wanda heads for the "X-Shuttle" and hands a package over to the driver: it will be delivered by cooperation partner DHL. You can also leave your dirty laundry on board and collect it clean two days later.
Extra services: X-Shuttle passengers can also drop off packages for DHL and laundry for the dry cleaner.
Wanda gets on and sits next to her colleague Daniel Lüdke. “What I like about the X-Shuttle is its tremendous flexibility”, says Daniel. “I simply use an app to request the time I want to go to work in the morning and when I want to return home in the evening. I don't have to coordinate with my car pool members every day, and I still don't have to commute alone”.
Photo by Roland Hermstein
With the help of the app that all of the commuters have installed on their smartphones, the users of the X-Shuttle service enter their desired pickup time and location. An algorithm uses the data to put together the optimal car pool and figures out the best-possible routes. “The app suggests a pickup time to me right after I submit the request”, Daniel explains. “I can confirm it with a simple click. Later, I can track the X-Shuttle on my cell phone and find out exactly when it will arrive. As a result, I can perfectly use the time until it picks me up”.
Photo by Roland Hermstein
During the workday, the X-Shuttle can also be booked for trips among company locations in Wolfsburg. The series of services offered to commuters makes the "X-Shuttle" a genuine test for the future direction of urban mobility – potentially a car pool of the future. The vehicle makes its way through the traffic. Laptops are flipped open, e-mails read and weekend activities discussed. One commuter is asleep. The navigation system offers a word of advice after the group has traveled a few kilometers: “You should avoid the highway today. The state road will be faster.” “Oh, we’ll be taking the scenic route today”, Wanda says. “This is one of the great things about the X-Shuttle: You don't have to worry about traffic problems and are more relaxed when you get to work”. When Wanda gets back in the X-Shuttle this evening, she knows that driver will have a cup of coffee waiting for her. With milk and a little sugar. She will open her laptop and enjoy a conversation with her colleagues on the way home. “When the X-Shuttle arrives I know my working day really is over”, says Wanda with a smile.
Source: Volkswagen AG