Car-Sharing Programs Launch in Paris, France, and a NJ Borough
On Sunday, Paris, France, launched a car-sharing project to make electric cars available to residents and tourists at 33 rental stations across the city. For the first two months (a testing phase), the Autolib system will have 66 ultracompact, lithium-metal-polymore-battery-powered Bluecars. People will be able to use them for 30 minutes for 4 to 8 euros ($5.41 to $10.86) after paying a 10-euro ($13.53) Autolib membership fee.
An annual subscription will cost the equivalent of $16 month, but daily and weekly subscriptions will also be available. Annick Lepetit, deputy mayor of Paris, said the tiered pricing system is to encourage people to use the cars only for short trips so as not to compete with car-rental businesses. Authorities hope Autolib will reduce traffic congestion.
Once the project officially begins on December 5, 250 Bluecars will be available. By the end of 2012, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe’s 235 million euro ($321 million) project will expand to 3,000 vehicles and more than 1,000 stations. Tourists will be able to use the service if they have a driver’s license that France recognizes.
Elena Berton writes for Reuters that Autolib:
… builds on the success of the Velib bicycle-sharing service and could provide a shop window for entrepreneur Vincent Bollore and his nascent car battery business.
[…] ‘We want to persuade people to shift from the concept of owning a car to that of using a car,’ Autolib General Manager Morald Chibout told Reuters.
The project, which echoes increasingly popular car clubs such as City Car, gets underway as top automakers test driver enthusiasm for electric cars on a large scale in Europe.
Soaring insurance and parking costs have already persuaded 25 percent of French citizens to cut back or give up on using their cars, according to a study published last year by Chronos TNS Sofres.
The Bluecar is designed and made by Italian designer Pininfarina (known for sculpting Ferraris and Maseratis), exclusively for entrepreneur Bollore and his car battery business. Bollore said he expects the project to make a profit by its seventh year. His batteries, he said, are safer than lithium-ion ones because they are less likely to overheat, and are more stable when charged and discharged. The Bluecar can go for 250 km (155.34 miles) before needing to be recharged. The recharge will take about four hours.
In addition to Paris, the small borough of Collingswood, NJ, is also getting a car-sharing system. The system coming to the Camden County town (whose population in the 2010 census was 13,926), is called Zipcar, Inc., the first car-sharing program in South Jersey.
Zipcar will provide residents, local businesses, and visitors with affordable, convenient transportation to reduce congestion and emissions, and will help to reduce Collingswood’s carbon footprint. National studies have shown that each car shared takes 15 privately-owned vehicles off the road, and that vehicle miles traveled per driver are reduced almost 50% when car owners switch to car sharing.
The program is launching with two vehicles, a Honda CR-V and Nissan Sentra, which will have reserved parking spots within walking distance of Collingswood’s PATCO Speedline station. Gas, reserved parking spots, insurance, roadside assistance, and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included in the hourly and daily Zipcar rates. Cars can be reserved for as little as an hour or for multiple days. Rates start from $7.50 per hour and $69 per 24-hour day.
“We’ve had requests for car sharing for some time now and we’re excited to bring this to residents and visitors,” said Collingswood Mayor James Maley. “Zipcar is a natural fit here. Collingswood is all about walkability and this serves residents looking to scale back.”
Image by Autolib, used under Fair Use: Reporting.