Electric Cars to Debut in Paris in December

Paris, which has already a four-year-old bicycle-sharing program, Vêlib, will soon be home to approximately 3,000-shared electric cars. The car project, known as Autolib, is due to be introduced by December of this year and is financed by Bolloré SA, one of the companies owned by bold entrepreneur, Vincent Bolloré. For a nominal monthly subscription fee along with usage charges, Parisians will be able to use the cars and charge them at one of more than 1,000 self-service charging stations throughout the city.

Autolib’s goal is to ease the growing traffic and pollution in Paris by reducing carbon emissions. The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, who pushed for the shared bike program, Velolib, is a strong supporter of the e-car scheme despite the fact that close to 8,000 bicycles were stolen during the first two years of the four-year old Velolib program. The name is a combination of vêlo or bicycle, and liberté, or freedom, and the program has been copied by other cities, including London. While electric cars are more difficult to steal, their batteries could attract thieves.

Italian automobile design firm Pininfarina, a partner of Bolloré, designed the bubble-shaped Bluecars as they are known. The cars seat four and are powered by a lithium metal polymer battery that allows them to travel about 150 miles between charges with a maximum speed of close to 60 miles per hour; it will take around four hours to charge the batteries. The cars will come with built-in GPS and emergency call buttons.

To subscribe to the Autolib program, drivers will need a driver’s license and will be charged $17 a month and a flat fee for each half hour of use. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolloré’s company spent $2 billion over several years to develop the e-car and battery, and he says it will cost several millions more to get the cars up and running. Paris city officials hope the program will attract about 200,000 subscribers in order to break even. Currently, 58 percent of Parisians do not own a car, according to the Paris city hall.

Article by Julie Mitchell, appearing courtesy Celsias.

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