Autolib Car Sharing Project Has Rocky Start
An ambitious electric car-sharing program started last year in Paris – long time Gas2 readers may remember the Autolib system, a dense network of charging stations and rentable electric BlueCars. The little silver cars with colorful stickers are supposed to number 3000 by the end of next year, but they seem to be ever so slightly behind schedule, and Paris itself seems a little unsure of whether or not it wants clean zero-emission transportation.
Paris Wants an Electric Revolution
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe sees the Autolib system as the spark for a new era of mobility; in making its own traffic and air cleaner, he hopes to set an example for the rest of the world. He said (according to Auto Motor Und Sport):
“On the day that Autolib becomes the norm for Parisians, all the cities of the world will change.”
Just over 600 of the planned 3000 are already on the Paris streets, but production delays make delivery dates for the remaining vehicles a little uncertain. Of the 1200 charging stations planned, 300 are operational so far.
Zero Emission Traffic
Some 2600 yearly subscriptions have been purchased so far, with customers able to pick up the EVs from one charging station and return them to another. The city is crafting a new tariff system for this year, making it easier for customers to read and understand.
Most Parisians do have the basics down – the Autolib system works much like the beloved Velib bicycle-sharing system. Each user buys a card, which is priced according to how long the card is valid. A 24-hour card costs 10 Euros (around $13.35 USD), a one-week card costs 15 Euros (about $20, USD), and a one-year subscription is just under $200 USD. A one-month card is apparently also in the works.
Not Without Difficulties
The fledgling program is struggling to get off the ground – vandalism is an unexpected source of damage to the electric cars, for example. Critics of the system fear that charging stations will cost the city valuable parking space (although if more people are renting the cars rather than buying their own, this problem solves itself), and both taxi drivers and conventional auto rental companies fear the competition (in which case, get with the program, guys, it’s a competitive world out there and no one is going to hold your hand).
Why, exactly, Paris is so far somewhat slow to accept the electric rental cars is something of a mystery. The little electric cars are emission-free and cleaner than traditional vehicles, and while they’re not quite as maneuverable as a bicycle, they’ll do a much better job of keeping the driver dry in inclement weather.
What do you think of the Autolib system? Let us know in the comments, below.