The French electric car rental scheme Autolib’ is heading for the UK. The company says it hopes to open its second overseas franchise in London in autumn 2015.
Nearly 3000 of the Pininfarina-designed electric cars are currently based in central Paris. The scheme has recently been expanded to Lyon and Bordeaux and is about to open in Indianapolis in the US.
Autocar can also reveal that the scheme's car supplier Bolloré has signed a deal to have its battery-powered Bluecars built by Renault at its Alpine plant in Dieppe.
Cédric Bolloré, the development director for Autolib’s parent company, said the company is also working on a three-seat electric rental car with Renault. The new model will be "lighter [than the current car] and fits the needs of typical Autolib’ trips, which average 2.2 passengers per journey".
The march towards the London EV rental car scheme began with Bolloré's Bluepointlondon arm taking over the existing Source London roadside charging points.
Once the maintenance agreements are secured, Bluepointlondon will standardise the charging systems across the city, ensure that they are fully functional and connected to the same IT network. The company is also working to add more existing charging points to the revamped network.
Owners of private electric plug-in vehicles are expected be allowed to use the Souce London/Bluepointlondon charging points for a £5 fee until 30 September and existing members of the Source London scheme will have their free access extended to the same date.
If negotiations are completed in the time frame expected, the first EV rent cars could be on the capital's streets by next autumn with between 200 and 250 of electric cars available for hire.
The cars will be right-hand drive and are likely to be painted bright red (probably with the same Pantone 485 ‘Safety Red’ used by London buses), but there's no name for the scheme as yet.
The pricing of the scheme is expected to be similar to that in Paris, with a £100 annual fee to join and a charge of around £5 for 30 minutes’ use.
Cédric Bolloré says he hopes the London EV scheme will expand as it has in Paris, which currently has nearly 3000 rental cars on its streets. If the London scheme does expand at the same rate as the original scheme, there could be as many as 3000 hire cars across the capital by 2019 or so.
However, unlike Paris, which is noted for its wide boulevard streets, finding sufficient permanent parking spaces for the London scheme could be difficult. The ‘Boris bikes’ rbicycle ental scheme and various car-sharing schemes already have parking spaces on permanent allocation.