Vincent Bollore is a French billionaire with a vision of an electric car future. He also thinks that car sharing services will be hugely popular in the crowded cities of today and tomorrow. Why? Do the math. Add up what it costs to buy a private car, including down payment, monthly payment, and taxes. Then include the cost of insurance, depreciation, and repairs. Factor in the cost of a garage to keep it in and the hassle of finding a place to park it when you go out and the cost per use or cost per mile is astronomical. That’s without paying for gasoline or electricity to run it.
With car sharing, an app on your phone tells you where the nearest car is. It is always plugged in and fully charged. Use it to get where you need to go, then park it and plug it in at any available charging station. The cost is billed directly to your credit card. No muss, no fuss. It sounds easy because it is.
Bollore has pioneered its own solid state batteries that is says are safer than traditional lithium ion batteries. It also designs its own cars and builds them at the joint Citroen Peugeot factory in Rennes, France. The Bollore Bluesummer convertible is built there and provides the chassis for the new Citroen e-Mehari all purpose vehicle.
The Bollore car sharing service has proven wildly popular in Paris, with more than 10,000 subscribers using 3,600 Bollore cars. Bollore has now begun a similar car sharing service in Indianapolis that signed up over 500 subscribers in its first 2 months. Earlier this year, London mayor Boris Johnson invited Bollore to bring its electric car sharing service to his city. London is in the midst of an enormous campaign to cut its emissions and reduce traffic. By 2017, all the iconic diesel taxis in the city will be replaced with a plug-in hybrid model.
The London car sharing service has run into some problems with the city’s electric charging infrastructure. Bollore has invested more than $12,000,000 to upgrade the existing charging network and add charge points. According to the International Business Times, Bollore plans to start its service in January with just 10 cars and expand slowly until it has 100 cars throughout the city. Average cost for a journey is expected to be around $7.00. That’s a fraction of what a taxi would cost.
The face of urban mobility is changing by the minute. Many expect city dwellers of the future will forego owning a car in favor of better public transit, ride sharing programs like Uber and car sharing programs like the one Bollore offers. The demand should be large enough to provide plenty of business opportunities for all three.
Photo credit: International Business Times