The French billionaire Vincent Bollore has unveiled plans to get 3000 electric cars on London streets by 2016, as part of a car share project that emulates the popular bike hire scheme started in 2010 under Mayor Boris Johnson, Reuters reports.
The Chief Executive of the group, who set up the Autolib electric car-sharing programme in Paris in 2011, said that electric car hire could help cut congestion and reduce pollution in the British capital. "Pollution becomes a nightmare...so many cities where you can't even go out and the planes can't take off and you have to solve this problem," Bollore told Reuters at the launch of the scheme alongside one of the compact, silver and white cars.
Facing stricter environmental regulation and growing demand for less polluting cars, automakers are investing heavily in electric vehicles, but many consumers have been deterred by the limited distance that electric cars can go on a single charge.
Bollore however, are looking to install 6000 charging points around London by 2018, up from the current 1400 available. Users will be able to hire a car for £10 an hour, using a Smartphone app to find a pick-up point and then leave it at one of the currently unspecified number of locations proposed.
Bollore, whose company has interests in transport, media and electricity storage, said drivers would be issued with a card which acted as a key and recognised them, even remembering their favourite radio station. He said 100 vehicles would be parked around London in the next year with the rest to follow by 2016.
The company will be investing £100 million on the UK initiative, with some £60 million to be spent a year on to maintain vehicles and running the business.
In Paris, the car share scheme has about 12,000 rentals a day with over 4800 charge points. It expects to break even ahead of its expected target in November this year. Vincent said he was planning to open his company's first US scheme in Indianapolis this year, with 500 cars and 1000 car charge points.