Paris is the latest city to offer pay-as-you-go electric car rentals – a number of all-electric Autolib’ vehicles are on the streets as of this week. Parisians (and presumably tourists) can pick up the little car from one of over 1200 charging stations throughout the city.
A significant number of Parisians (25%, according to a study published by Chronos TNS Sofres) have joined residents of other major cities in giving up their cars due to high insurance and parking costs. Autolib’ general manager Morald Chibout saw that as his cue to “persuade people to shift from the concept of owning a car to that of using a car.”
The Autolib’ project isn’t France’s first – Paris launched its first car-sharing program just over three months ago. It started out with just 66 cars and 33 rental stations, and has expanded considerably since its introduction – 3,000 vehicles are now available.
The vehicle in question is a four-seater Bluecar, which was designed and manufactured in Italy by the designer Pininfarina. The Bluecar is supposed to have 150+ mile range, and take about 4 hours to recharge.
Rather than design the batteries to support the car, the Bluecar was designed around its batteries. The lithium ion batteries, which are exclusively produced by entrepreneur Vincent Bolloré, are allegedly less prone to overheating than the standard Li-Ion variety used by most EVs and therefore less dangerous (we only have Bolloré’s word for that).
The infrastructure for car-sharing already exists; all Autolib’ had to do was tweak it a little. Drivers can choose from daily, weekly, or even annual subscriptions. Each subscription entitles the driver to 30 minutes at a time.
Renting out EVs is supposed to reduce noise and emissions on top of the traffic-reduction that the first car-sharing program was aiming to achieve. Whether or not it’s successful, it seems like a better alternative than renting or owning a car and then trying to find a place to park it.
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