A few years ago, we covered Paris’s plans to initiate an electric car sharing program. Through the Autolib car sharing program, which boasts over 1800 vehicles and 800 charging stations, the French capital now ranks among the world’s leaders in EV presence and charging locations.
Autolib’s system was built by a subsidiary of Bolloré, the company that helped create the compact Bluecar. This system focus on being extremely user-friendly, by monitoring the relative location and battery charge of each vehicle. Members of the program can simply swipe their cards at a charging station and use a nearby car with the best charge. Only cars with a 40 percent or higher charge are released to members, and an agent will even contact drivers who’ve ventured past the last charging locations in the suburbs or drive with a battery that has a charge lower than 20 percent.
As IEEE Spectrum reports, more EVs on the road means more familiarity with seeing and driving them--and less local air pollution should they have been fossil fuel powered instead. With ample charging locations and shorter distances, in an urban environment, shared EVs can also shine well within their range. That being said, the convenience of personal vehicle ownership, for those who can afford it and even when space is at a premium, is a challenge all car sharing programs will continue to combat. The Autolib program in particular has its share of critics among EV car sharing supporters, who say the program’s focus on being flexible means its members are more likely to have their own personal cars as well, and that programs that allow the reservation of vehicles have much more success in reducing personal automobile ownership. The Autolib program has also not yet generated profits, although general director Morald Chibout believes the program will become profitable sometime in 2014.
via: IEEE Spectrum