Sunday, December 26, 2010

Self-service electric cars in Paris

French conglomerate Bollore has won a contract to provide its small four-seater electric cars to France.The bubble-shaped Bluecars, designed by Italian partner Pininfarina, are powered by lithium polymer metal batteries produced by Bollore, and have a range of 250 km (155 miles) in the city between charges, which will take about four hours. The Autolib scheme, due to be introduced next autumn, will see 3,000 bubble-shaped, battery-powered cars stationed at 1,000 self-service hire points across the city and its suburbs.

Autolib builds on the success of Velib and replicates its business model. Launched in 2007 in Paris and now replicated in many other European cities, Velib is a bike rental scheme that allows customers to pick a bike from one of the 1,200 points in Paris (one every 300 meters) and return it to another, without having to worry about parking, maintenance or indeed theft. Autolib’ replicates the scheme with electric cars instead of bikes. In a way, one could argue that, albeit with a different vehicle, the Velib’ programme was a full scale prototype of the Autolib’ one.

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