Autolib’ Electric Vehicles Could Be Ready for Paris Streets By 2011

Everyday people realize the contribution electric vehicles are capable of making now that they continue to become more and more available to the community at large. While they are still far from becoming the ultimate replacement to fossil fuel cars that many hope they will one day be, electric vehicles have found plenty of niches in society where they can make an impact. One such place is on the streets of Paris, France where an ambitious program involving electric vehicles is coming closer to becoming realized.

The plan that many supporters are excited to see getting closer to reaching the beginning is called Autolib’ and would involve the public sharing of 3,000 electric vehicles within the city. While the idea seems a bit much, the organization going into the program is actually well thought out. The Autolib’ program would allow a person who holds a valid driver’s license to pay a daily, weekly, or annual subscription fee that would allow them to use one of the 3,000 Autolib’ vehicles anywhere within the Paris city limits and suburbs. The electric vehicles themselves would be placed around the city at one of 1,200 Autolib’ docking stations that would allow a user to retrieve or park the car and allow it to be picked up by another or charged. In anticipation for a rather large demand, there would even be a way of reserving a vehicle ahead of time to ensure that it would be made available when you arrive.

While the Autolib’ electric vehicle program has a great deal of supporters, there are also many who are worried that the city will lose more money on the program than they will gain. The Autolib’ system is based off the currently existing Vélib’ system that was established in July of 2007 and allows for the sharing of over 17,000 bicycles under similar pretenses in Paris. Unfortunately, while the program has had a lot of success there have also been a lot of instances where the bicycles were simply stolen, lost, or outright destroyed by those that took them. Many are hoping, however, that considering the much higher cost of replacing an electric vehicle compared to a bicycle that the group running the Autolib’ will have a more secure method of tracking and maintaining the vehicles.

So far, the Autolib’ program is supposed to be on track for getting underway in 2011. The system is expected to employ approximately 800 people around Paris and to feature vehicles that were designed in collaboration between French designers and Italian car manufacturers. Whether or not the Autolib’ program will be as successful as is hoped remains to be seen but we may only have to wait until the new year is nearly over to find out just that.

Photo Credit: David Monniaux