Paris set for rental electric cars

A self-service electric car scheme is set to be introduced in Paris by the end of next year in an effort to cut the city's pollution.

The Autolib car-sharing scheme, which is modelled on the city's three-year-old bicycle-sharing programme Velib, will see 3,000 battery-powered four-seat vehicles placed at 1,200 stations in metropolitan Paris.

The Bluecars, developed by French industrial conglomerate Groupe Bollore, will be available around the clock. Users will need a valid driver's licence and must pay a subscription fee to borrow one of the vehicles.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said the rental car service - set to start in the city and nearby suburbs by the end of 2011 - will make Paris the first major world city with a car-sharing programme of its size.

Mr Delanoe said that the plan is "a revolution in efficiency that will improve our quality of life".

Italian car designer Pininfarina worked with Bollore to develop the cars.

Tourists will be able to use the service as long as they have a driver's licence recognised in France.

An annual subscription will cost 12 euro (£10.40) per month, but daily and weekly options will also be available. A 250 euro (£218) security deposit will also be required. The cars can be reserved in advance and returned to any station.

A test phase is scheduled for August and September, before the official start-up in October.

Groupe Bollore won the bid to run the scheme, beating two rivals, after a year-long selection process: a consortium of rental car giant Avis, Paris public transport authority RATP, national rail operator SNCF and Vinci Park, an operator of parking garages; and Veolia Transport Urbain - an international operator of public transport systems.

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