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Paris Autolib EV rental scheme goes live

Paris Autolib EV rental scheme goes live

A new electric car rental scheme has gone live in Paris this week – the new Autolib system allows you to rent a vehicle in a similar way to London's 'Boris Bikes' scheme.

The project went live on Monday with 250 electric vehicles. The small EVs are called 'Bluecars'; 4-seater pure electric citycars that can be docked at a number of bays around Paris, each equipped with charging facilities.

Users of the scheme will be charged hourly for between 4 and 9 Euros, on top of a daily (€10), weekly (€15) or annual (€144) subscription charge. Members will simply receive a card that can be swiped against the window of the car, which will unlock the door to begin your session.

New electric cars are to be added each month, with the target of having 3,000 cars and 1,200 charging stations in operation by 2012. The scheme will encourage a network of charging points to be installed across the French capital, which will be a bonus for other electric vehicle owners and likely to give confidence to those considering buying an electric car.

Autolib is a collaboration between Italian car designer Pininfarina, the regional council and French conglomerate Groupe Bollore, which hopes to use the Bluecar to showcase its Lithium Metal Polymer battery, which powers the car. Other French cities have car rental schemes, but the Autolib scheme is the first to use all-electric vehicles with a new generation of electric batteries. A fully charged Bluecar will return a 250km driving range of inner city driving.

Groupe Bollore estimates that 80,000 subscribers are needed for the programme to make a profit – a target that they expect to reach within seven years of operation. More than 2,000 people have already signed up and the scheme has only been in operation for a couple of days.

The city's mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, described the electric cars as 'a revolution' that would improve quality of life in the city. "It will mean fewer parked cars, less traffic and less pollution," Mr Delanoe said.

"The city's first interest is fighting air pollution. These cars not only don't emit carbon dioxide but they don't emit localised exhaust fumes either – and they don't make noise," said Sylvain Marty from Autolib.

Although the electric cars are less polluting than conventional alternatives, some groups are opposing Autolib and predict that it will increase traffic on the roads by tempting people away from public transport. Others say that the increase in electricity demand will hinder campaigns to wean France off nuclear power.

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