Billionaire Vincent Bollore will back an electric carsharing network in London. The system will have thousands of electric vehicle charging stations and should be operating in late 2014 or early 2015.
Bollore heads the Bollore Group, which is a family business focused on maritime freight and international trade. He took over the corporation that employs over 30,000 after being trained in investment banking.
His company has implemented a similar EV carsharing scheme in Paris. The one in London will cost Bollore about $166 million and have approximately 6,000 charging stations. Consumers can rent electric cars in the network in fifteen minute intervals. The first launch in late 2014 or early 2015 will provide 100 electric cars, with up to 3,000 more in the next three years.
London already has an EV charger network with almost 1,400 stations located at car parks, hospitals, and grocery stores. This program was backed by the mayor of London, but Bollore’s private investment may be more effective at stimulating electric car transport.
The Paris carsharing service Autolib is already taking about 315,000 reservations each month and is run by the Bollore Group. Members in the London EV network will pay a monthly fee and about $16 per hour to rent a car. This may seem expensive, but the cost of living in the world’s largest cities—such as London, Paris and Tokyo—does tend to be much higher than in other places. For example, City Car Share in San Francisco and the East Bay only costs $10 per month and up to $9.50 per hour, with night owl rates of $1.50 per hour. (They also charge 35 cents a mile.)
It should be pointed out the when these carsharing systems first come online, their price points might seem unacceptable simply because the consumer public is unfamiliar with them. Gradually, the gain more favor as more and more people use them. When you use a car in a carsharing service, you typically just use it for a few hours, not for a day or more, so you can end up paying less than you would for a rental car that you really don’t need for a very long period of time.
London has been facing air pollution levels that are considered too high. Using more electric vehicles is of course better for public health since they have zero tailpipe emissions.