French businessman and billionaire Vincent Bolloré just announced that he will invest $131 million in Autolib, the Parisian electric vehicle car share program that will be launched in the fall of 2011. The car share program will be modeled after the successful Parisian bike share program — called Velib — and Bolloré’s investment will go toward purchasing the bubble-shaped Bluecars that Autolib will rent by the half hour at 1,000 stations in and around Paris.
Bolloré and his Italian partners Pininfarina have developed the Bluecars specifically for Autolib. The group created a line of lithium polymer metal batteries — as opposed to the more popular lithium-ion batteries used in some electric vehicles — which have a range of 150 miles on a single charge, take about four hours to juice-up and are more resistant to heat and cold than lithium-ion batteries. Autolib is designed for little hops or errands around the city — not for long jaunts like a Zipcar or Hertz Connect program, so the Bluecar will be perfect for the Parisian program.
Bolloré noted that his company has delivered their initial investment of $79 million to Autolib, but the total amount will eventually reach at least $131 million — or 100 million Euros — before the deal is done. Autolib noted that Bolloré won’t get a return on his investment for at least seven years but he doesn’t seem worried — he says that his shareholders were prepared to be patient. The car share program is set to be in place by next fall and surely Bolloré’s investment is helping move the process along. If only every green venture in the world could get a billionaire on their side, we’d get a whole ton of renewable energy balls rolling at once. For now we’ll just look forward to the Autolib’s inaugural drive and hope it sets a trend for other cities worldwide.
Via Autoblog Green