Wednesday 12 March 2014 11:17 am

French billionaire brings electric car sharing to London

Londoners will from next year be able to hire an electric car for 15 minutes at a time, along the lines of the Boris Bike scheme, under plans unveiled by French industrialist Vincent Bollore today.

Bollore, the company that will take over the existing Source London network of 1,500 electric charging points from TfL and Siemens this summer, plans to launch a car-sharing club with 100 environmentally-friendly vehicles within a year.

“We think electric vehicles are very much the answer for London,” said Leon Daniels, head of surface transport for TfL. He said that the charging network requires no further public funding and TfL will be “facilitating” the Bollore project. 

Bollore already runs the Paris Autolib’ scheme and several other car sharing clubs in France and the United States. It will invest £100m to equip London with 6,000 charging points and up to 3,000 cars by 2018, with exact locations depending on the support of the city’s boroughs.

In the Paris scheme, around 10 drivers tend to use each car per day, meaning the vehicles must stand up to “a much bigger stress test than rental cars”, said president Vincent Bollore.

Autolib’ was intended to break even within seven years, but is on course to do so by its third birthday, Bollore said. The firm has pencilled in a six-year break-even target for London.

While electric car sharing is “not normalised or understood” in London yet, leaving many charging points currently unused, Bollore said his firm is “absolutely ready to make all the investment; we are comfortable about the success of such a project”.

He said that Paris residents are now avid users of the scheme, making 315,000 reservations a month, though “when it started they were crying, saying I can’t park in front of my house anymore”.

Users of the currently unnamed London scheme will pay a monthly membership fee then pay £10 per hour to use the cars, broken down into 15 minute segments.