With Hybrid Car Sales in a Slump, Paris Makes Electric Cars Available for Public Use. Vive La France

Posted on October 1, 2011

The Toyota Prius with incredible mileage and a reasonable cost has topped the list of hybrid car sales for years.  But hybrid sales in general are down.  Other hybrids do not get the gas mileage and cost more than the Prius. [CNN]

So what’s a country like France to do to keep gas guzzlers off its roads and their fumes out of their air:  Make electric cars as available in Paris as they have bicycles for public use.

Reuters) – Paris launches its first car-sharing project next week with the aim of clearing its traffic-clogged boulevards and delivering what its backers hope will be a major boost for electric vehicles.

The Autolib system 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.

In a two-month pilot scheme starting October 2, a rounded, ultracompact Bluecar built by Bollore’s conglomerate and powered by his alternative lithium-metal-polymer battery can be hired for 30 minutes for 4-8 euros by motorists who pay a 10-euro Autolib membership fee.

“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.

Renault SA and its Japanese sister company Nissan Motor Co, which have invested 4 billion euros in electric vehicles, have begun selling a few such cars ahead of volume production and sales are set to kick off in 2012.

Carlos Ghosn, who leads Renault and Nissan, has said electric cars could account for 10 percent of new car sales by 2020. [CNN]


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