London's "Boris Bike" cycle hire scheme has been a huge success since its launch in 2010. Now a French billionaire wants to apply a similar model to cars. IER, a subsidiary Vincent Bolloré's Bolloré Group, has announced plans to roll out a hire scheme for electric cars in the capital.
It was announced in December 2013 that IER had won a contract from TfL to take over the management and operation of Source London, the city's electric vehicle charging network, from June 2014. As part of the deal, IER agreed to install 1,500 new electric vehicle charging terminals across London, taking the total to 6,000 by 2018. The firm also proposed a new Source London website, a new set of mobile apps and a London-based sales office.
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The firm's announcement this week confirms those proposals and, in addition, lays out plans for a electric vehicle hire scheme that includes a 24/7 call center, maintenance service and reservation system. Users will also be able to book the vehicles using the new Source London apps, which will use geo-location to help them find the nearest available vehicle.
"These are ambitious and exciting plans that will take Source London and electric car sharing in our city to the next level," said Mayor of London Boris Johnson in a press release. "We’re going to see more charging points popping up across London, which will drive the take-up of these cleaner, greener machines and help to reduce air pollution too."
IER's parent company, Blue Solutions, rolled out a similar scheme in Paris, which has been running since 2011. According to the Bolloré Group, Autolib has over 45,000 active subscribers making between 9,000 and 13,000 car journeys each day.
"I believe that London could be the world’s most advanced sustainable transport city and our announcement today is another step on the path to this goal," said Vincent Bolloré in a press release. He continued, "Electric car sharing has been tremendously popular in Paris and we believe it could be as equally successful in London, offering people a convenient and low cost form of environmentally-friendly transport."
Electric car hire will cost £10 (US$17) per hour, £5 ($8) for 30 minutes and £2.50 ($4) for 15 mins. There will be a £5 ($8) monthly membership charge or users will be able to simply subscribe for the day.