Those who thought Paris’ Velib scheme was all about reducing automotive congestion may have to think again. Around 4,000 electric cars are to be offered to Parisians at 700 locations on the same self-service, street-hire basis that has made Velib such a hit.
Some critics, however, see the plans as a retrograde step that will simply add to the congestion the Velib scheme was supposed to be reducing. Others say it will end up being nothing more than a self-driven taxi service. But Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is undeterred and has doubled the projected number of vehicles in the scheme from the original 2,000 with the additional cars destined to ensure that the greater Paris region is also served.
Delanoë says that computerisation will ensure users are told exactly where they will be required to drop the cars off, ensuring there is always a free space available and eliminating parking issues. There are also plans to integrate payment for the bike and car hire schemes with the ticketing systems for traditional modes of public transport.
Two electric vehicle manufacturers are said to be in the frame to supply the cars: the Dassault Group and Bolloré. The former has a vehicle called the Cleanova, which employs the body of the Renault Kangoo van, while Bolloré’s Bluecar has been developed with Italian styling house Pininfarina and is due to go on sale commercially next year.