Paris is hoping to clear its streets with its first ‘car-sharing’ scheme. The new Autolib system is hoped to be a vehicle equivalent of the Velib bicycle rental-service, albeit an improved version. The scheme will be piloted for two-months in the hope of receiving some positive results; offering Parisians the option to hire a battery powered Bluecar for 30 minutes.
The scheme is going to be rolled out from next week, with just 66 vehicles available to begin with and 33 stations; but with a view to expand to 3,000 vehicles and more than 1,000 charging stations. However, that’s just the aim for the scheme by the end of 2012!
However there seems to be slightly conflicting hopes for the scheme, with Morald Chibout, Autolib’s General Manager, stating “We want to persuade people to shift from the concept of owning a car to that of using a car”. The conflict being that Autolib’s pricing structure deliberately seeks to encourage shorter journeys; with 30 minutes costing 4-8 Euros and a yearly membership costing from 10 Euros a day or 144 Euros a year. This will mean that as much as they seek to make it a viable alternative to owning a car, there are certain flaws which mean this is unlikely to happen, at least for now.
However putting this aside, for the time being, the scheme itself is a theoretically promising one, and more promise comes from the designer Pininfarina; who are a famous name behind the design of both Maseratis and Ferrari’s.
One point certainly worth raising is the need to learn from the failings and shortcomings of the Velib scheme. Despite its success, the scheme had 3,000 bicycles stolen during its first year, with vandalism being a large problem for the scheme too. If Autolib can learn from this, and make the scheme work in a way that is realistic in scale and approach, then the promise this scheme would seem to offer, could be converted into a brilliant system that, with a little refinement, has the potential to be rolled out elsewhere.
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