Billionaire Vincent Bollore believes that he has the solution for the traffic in Paris: his Pininfarina-designed bubble-shaped electric cars. If this product takes off, Bollore’s growing battery business will get a major boost. These Autolib cars could be hired for a two-month trial beginning last Monday. Motorists are required to pay a membership fee starting at 10 euros for one day of driving and a hire fee of 4-8 euros per half hour.
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe masterminded this 235 million euro ($321 million) project, which he expects will achieve at least the same success as his bicycle-sharing scheme dubbed Velib. This effort was launched in 2007.
Already, many cities in France and even overseas have copied the Velib, says Autonews. The bubble-shaped electric cars have the potential to be a platform for Bollore's industrial conglomerate, which is building the BlueCar vehicles in the scheme. These use a lithium-metal-polymer battery, which uses a technology that’s different from the one used on lithium-ion batteries.
Bollore told reporters that this project is expected to be profitable starting on the seventh year. This scheme is a bit similar to car clubs like the City Car that permit members to hire a local car for as short a period as one hour. Autolib General Manager Morald Chibout said that the automaker seeks to convince people to make the shift from the concept of owning a car to that of using a car.
To construct the car rental stations, Paris has spent 35 million euros ($47.8 million) while nearby regions have made a contribution of 50,000 for every station. For each car space, a 750 euros annual fee will be paid by the Bollore group, which has invested 200 million euros in the project.