Encouraged by the rapid success of the “Boris Bike” sharing program, London has announced plans for an electric car sharing network. French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, the brains and money behind Paris’ Autolib car sharing program, will reportedly spend $166 million on the Source London program. The financial infusion will be enough to quadruple the number of electric vehicle charging stations around London, ultimately equipping the city with 6,000 places to juice up an EV. Leon Daniels, head of surface transport at Transport for London (TfL), told the Guardian that the car sharing program is “one more big step” in improving air quality in the capital, one of the most polluted in Europe.
Vincent Bolloré is the 14th-richest person in France, and #183 (out of less than 2,000) on Forbes’ list of global billionaires. Unlike many of his wealthy counterparts, who remain staunchly invested in the dying fossil fuel industry, Bolloré has thrown the weight of his fortune behind green technologies.
“The Bolloré Group’s Blue Solutions, a manufacturer of patented lithium-metal-polymer car batteries, went public in 2013. The batteries power the Bolloré Bluecar, used in Paris’ electric car-sharing service,” reports Natalie Robehmed for Forbes.
It’s no surprise then that Bolloré Bluecar will make an appearance in London’s car sharing program as well. According to the Guardian, “about 100 Bluecars built by Bolloré will be in service at launch,” and the program plans to expand to 3,000 cars as soon as there’s enough public demand and parking spaces, which company officials expect will be around 2018.
According to City A.M., London electric car share users will pay a monthly membership fee in addition to $16 an hour to use the cars, which can be unlocked by a smartbadge or mobile phone, the idea is to facilitate short, zero emissions trips within the city without the high cost of buying or maintaining an electric car.
However critics say “the scheme has failed to reduce the number of cars on Paris’s streets overall, with no concrete evidence that the number of private and company cars has dropped. Taxi drivers and car hire companies also complained to the courts about unfair competition, and some town halls complained about the cost of the scheme,” reports the Guardian.