Paris, the so-called City of Light, though often rainy and dreary, has been doing some really exciting things in advanced transportation. For decades, of course, it has had one of the premier subway systems, the model for similar systems the world over, producing huge revenues for French manufacturers. Four years ago the mayor of Paris introduced a citywide bicycle sharing system, Vélib, which has become hugely popular and in turn also is the model for systems elsewhere (most recently New York City). Two years ago France announced it would build a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure adequate to support 2 million plug-in hybrids and EVs by 2020.
Now, this week, Paris unveiled an electric car sharing system modeled on Vélib, the bike program. It will enter full service on December 5, with at least 250 vehicles for hire. As described in the Financial Times, "Following the Velib system, users can pick up the car at one point and drop it off at another destination, as long as they can find a dedicated parking space—something that an in-car computer system is designed to help identify."
The electric car itself, a model of simplicity, was developed by entrepreneur Vincent Bolloré. Dubbed the Bluecar (and not to be confused with clean-diesel technologies developed by Daimler and VW), it beat out Daimler's electric Smart and a candidate developed by Peugeot. The Bluecar was designed and will be produced by Pininfarina, in Turin, Italy, which makes the Ferrari and Maserati.
The car runs on a solid-state lithium metal polymer battery, also developed under the Bolloré group’s aegis. As described on the Bluecar’s Web site, it "can store five times more energy than a traditional battery weight for weight, and can be recharged in a matter of hours. It does not require any maintenance and has a lifespan of around 200 000 km, providing outstanding safety throughout."