It's all-electric all the time for a new car-sharing program launched in Paris. The Autolib project has begun a two-month testing program with a total of 60 cars spread across 10 stations throughout France's largest city.
The program mirrors similar outfits in New York City and the Netherlands, with the addition that all of the French program's cars are electric, powered by lithium metal polymer batteries that can power a car to a trip as long as 250 kilometers, at a top speed of 130 kph (80 mph). The drive system is similar to an automatic engine, with three gears: drive, neutral, and reverse. GPS readouts showing current speed, battery status, and radio station choice are available in French and English.
The company will have a 24-hour operational center that will feature on-call telephone operators to take reservations and answer questions, as well as a tracking system that can determine the whereabouts of any car at any time.
Provided that the Bollore group is happy with the results of the tests, the program will launch on December 5. The initial official rollout is expected to include 250 cars at a total of 46 stations around Paris. Users would pay an annual subscription that would be equivalent to a fee of 12 euros a month.
The government hopes that the car-sharing program will be yet another option for public transport in and around the large city. The city is home to trains, buses, and a very popular bike-sharing system.
The Bluecar is bubble-shaped and was designed by the company Pininfarina, makers of several train and tram systems in France and noted sportscars Ferrari and Maserati.