Saturday, August 8, 2009

Autolib: Paris' Electric Car Sharing Plan

A plan to make 4,000 electric cars available for Parisians to pick up and drop off at rental stands still has some kinks to be worked out. Could the City of Lights soon become the City of Electric Cars? Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, building on the success of the city's popular Vélib curbside bike rental scheme, is planning to deploy a fleet of 2,000 electric cars that customers can pick up and drop off at rental stands around the city. Another 2,000 vehicles will be offered in two dozen surrounding cities. The green scheme, dubbed Autolib (short for "automobile" and "liberté"), is scheduled for launch as early as the end of 2010, although city officials say the startup date could be closer to mid-2011. Advocates say the system would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 22,000 tons a year while improving traffic congestion as fewer Paris residents would need to own cars. It would be the first major city to offer such a service. "This could revolutionize transport," Delanoë told French radio station RMC when he first proposed the program in June 2008. Now, after numerous delays, Autolib is finally going forward, with the formation this summer of an intergovernmental council for Greater Paris that will oversee the scheme. Read more in Business Week.