Paris gets cheap electric car-share scheme

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Paris has launched an electric car-sharing scheme aimed at unclogging its streets of privately owned cars.

The Autolib scheme follows the Velib bike rental service and gives Parisians cheap, short-term access to an electric car for use in the city centre.

Prices range from four to eight euros (around £3.50 to £7.00) for half an hour with a car, while membership to the scheme costs ten euros a day, or 144 euros (£120) for a year.

The cars, called Bluecar, have been designed by Pininfarina, and 66 were put on the streets yesterday (2 October), available from 33 charging stations.

Up to 5,000 will be on the road by the end of 2012, according to Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, from over 1,000 charging stations dotted about the city.

The four-seat, three-door cars were provided by entrepreneur Vincent Bollore, who has reportedly invested over £850m in the development of both the car and its battery pack.

Talking to Reuters, Autolib general manager Morald Chibout said that the scheme aims to "persuade people to shift from the concept of owning a car to that of using a car."

A paying user can pick up a Bluecar from any charging station and drop it off at any other; the price structure is aimed at encouraging short journeys.

It's hoped that the scheme will facilitate a more widespread acceptance of the electric car, which will in turn make Governments and businesses more willing to invest quickly in a widespread charging infrastructure.