French EVSharing Service Puts Bolloré Bluecar in Many Hands PluginCars com

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Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars

French EV-Sharing Service Puts Bolloré Bluecar in Many Hands

By Laurent J. Masson · December 13, 2011

A Bolloré Bluecar from from the Autolib Parisian service

When the Bolloré Bluecar concept was unveiled at the Paris motor show in October 2008, it was supposed to be the best electric car for trendy urbanites. At least, that’s what people were saying. It was using the promising Lithium Metal Polymer battery from the Bolloré group, and world-famous designer Pininfarina had given it an award-winning look. It also had a cool name, though not French, Bluecar . The concept was supposed to be followed by the production model six months later, but with changing economic conditions, nothing came for two years.

Then we learned that the Bolloré Bluecar had won the bidding procedure to provide cars for Autolib, the electric car sharing service in Paris.

The Pininfarina designed Bolloré Bluecar concept from 2008

The EV service has started, and there are now 250 electric Bolloré Bluecars driving in the French capital. The city of Paris has been very successful with its Velib bike-rental scheme and there is a lot of enthusiasm that this new car service will be equally popular. Sadly, people who love driving nice cars do not share this enthusiasm. It’s easy to understand why. Just look at the white concept car versus the grey production version.

The expensive LED front lights have been replaced by generic round ones. Stylish solar cells and body-colored bumpers are gone. The upmarket feel of the car is gone.

I suppose that was expected, since the luxury city car has been converted into a robust tool that will get many users driving it with a it’s not my car attitude. But there are other problems. The Autolib service started on December 5, and there are already reports of car’s breakdowns and various bugs and failures in the car functioning or in the reservation process.

But let’s remain confident that all the problems will be sorted out.

The Bolloré conglomerate though huge, has no experience in making cars. It hired the service of two Italian contract manufacturers, but they lacked time to set up a solid industrial manufacturing system. It shows. Build quality is poor. The Bluecar is more like a Think City. rather than the product of a large manufacturer.

Performance also is poor. A Mitsubishi i-MiEV is probably faster, though it’s hard to say by how much because there are no cars available for journalists. Anyone can rent an Autolib but you have to pay, and journalists are not used to that.

Her’s another issue: Driving the car is only allowed in Paris and some surrounding cities46 in total. There are no test tracks there, and it would be difficult to accelerate fast enough for a decent evaluation while in Parisian traffic. Maybe we should not think of the Bolloré Bluecar as a car, but as a service. After all, it’s impossible to buy the car.

Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars

Parisians can only rent it on a short-term basis.

This is the new transportation for the young folks who say they’d rather own a smart phone than a caryou’ve guessed I’m not one of them. Paris is already a nightmare for drivers with daily gridlock, and Autolib is making it even more difficult. Six-thousand parking spots, a rare commodity, have been reserved for the Autolib service.

They have a charging plug and any other car trying to park there will be fined, and towed away.

A Bolloré Bluecar from from the Autolib Parisian service

To become a user, one has to go through one of 40 rental stations. The station looks like a giant phone booth, with a computer screen for videoconferencing with an Autolib representative, a scanner for your driver’s license, a credit-card machine, and a small printer which will give you the magnetized card to get into the cars. One you’re in the system, you can book a car via the web or a phone, and cost is moderate.

Standard subscriptions cost €10 (US $13.50) a day, €15 (US $20) a week, and €144 (US $195) a year. Beyond that, the hourly fees run from €9 to €13 depending on the rental plan. The plan might work, but I believe it would stand a better chance with a fun-to-drive upmarket city EV.

Maybe Infiniti will fill that need.

Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars
Bollore Bluecar Electric Cars

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