New Paris Car Sharing, Autolib', Expands and is a Success

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Last year Paris launched a new electric car sharing programme, Autolib', and by now, its first anniversary, it has become a success. It first started on a small scale with only 66 cars.

Now there are 1,800 Bluecars parked at 670 kiosks along Parisian streets and in some suburbs as well. Dotted around town are these glass/plastic kiosks where you can register and pay for the service. Très chic.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The Bluecar is a silver-coloured silver three-door hatchback with four seats and a very basic interior. The Bluecar's 660-pound (300-kg), 30-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, under the passenger seats, powers an electric motor that drives the front wheels. The batteries are made in Brittany and in Montreal (Canadian content). They say that the car's range is 155 miles (250 km) in urban use, or 93 mi (150 km) on the highway.

On the side of each car it says Libre Comme l’Air, meaning “free like the air”.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

More than 37,000 people have already joined the system, and Autolib' enrolls another 1,200 every week. The Bluecars have been rented 550,000 times in 10 months, covering more than 3 million miles (5 million km) in total. They are rented 4,000 to 5,000 times a week, with highest usage on the weekends.

And who is renting them? It seems that users were predominantly men at first, more but more women are catching on. Most users are 25 to 39 years old, and 70 percent of them do not own a car.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

You drive it from one car-sharing kiosk to another--they don't have to be returned to the same one. There are reserved parking spots around the city. However, there are still glitches. At one Autolib' stop, two customers were in a fury. The computer signal didn't work, so one couldn't return his car, and the other couldn't take it out. You only stop paying when the car is parked and plugged back at the Autolib station.

Tags: Car Sharing | Electric Vehicles | Paris