When it comes to hubs of alternative transportation and the sharing economy, one usually thinks of progressive hotspots like San Francisco or Portland. Thanks to French car-sharing service Autolib, however, the Midwest is about to stake its claim to a piece of collaborative consumption history. With diligence from famously green Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis will be the first to see if Paris’ successful electric vehicle sharing program can find a foothold here in America.
Thanks to the support of leaders from Indianapolis’ largest employers, universities, hospitality destinations and civic organizations, Autolib’s arrival will make the city home to the largest electric car share program in the United States.
The system will feature 500 electric vehicles and 1,200 charging stations at 200 car-share locations. Like many other car sharing schemes, users pay a membership fee (daily, monthly, or annually) and receive a radio-frequency ID card. When they need to rent a vehicle, a reservation is made online or at a dedicated car share kiosk. The car can then be unlocked by swiping the card on the windshield. Charging stations are unlocked in a similar manner.
According to an announcement from the City, rates for the Indianapolis service have not yet been established, but in Paris, membership costs $16 per month and a 20-minute trip costs about $4.50.
“Indianapolis is becoming a major hub for clean transportation technologies, garnering national attention, due in large part to Mayor Ballard’s leadership in promoting electric and natural gas fuel in transportation,” said Paul Mitchell, President/CEO of Energy Systems Network in a press release. “The fact that a company like Bolloré [which owns and operates Autolib] is choosing Indianapolis as the first US market for its innovative transportation solution shows the world is also now taking notice.”
Autoblog Green reports that in late 2012, “Mayor Greg Ballard signed an executive order that will push the city to replace its fleet with all hybrids and plug-in vehicles by as early as 2025. Replacing Indianapolis’s police fleet with plug-ins is estimated to save about $10 million worth of fuel annually.” Now, thanks to the upcoming car sharing program, residents will be able to claim their savings as well.