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Paris a global leader in electric car sharing

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albert-grahamWhich one of the images to the right would you expect to encounter when visiting Paris this summer?

If you answered all four, then you are right on the mark!

Summer has arrived here in Paris, and along with it comes the opportunity to visit the great sites the city has to offer such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and, of course, all of the wonderful sidewalk cafes and restaurants along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

City of Lights boosts EVs
This year, however, Paris, also known as the City of Lights, has an additional special treat awaiting its visitors, especially for those who are also fans of electric vehicle (EV) driving. Paris has now rolled out, in full force, the new Autolib’ EV rental program.

Designed to make electric vehicle driving accessible to all, the Autolib' program is an EV car rental program, which, for a modest fee, allows the user to pick up an EV at one point and drive for awhile and then deposit the vehicle at another location.

The vehicles are available for rental to the local public as well as to foreign visitors holding an international drivers license (you usually can obtain an international driver’s license through your local AAA auto club office before you leave home).

More than 1,000 EVs for rent
Currently there are about 1,740 cars available for rent at 5,000 rental/recharging slots throughout the city. Plans are to expand the program out to 3,000 vehicles and 6,600 charging stations by 2014. Depending on the subscription you purchase at the time of registration, the rates are a comfortable seven Euros per half hour of rental and can go as low as five Euros per half hour of rental depending on the plan you qualify for and choose.

Whether it be for a quick one-way ride to the other side of town for a business rendez-vous or a round trip run to the market to pick up fresh produce, Autolib’ is the tres chic way to get around Paris in 2012.

Registration is simple and quick (takes only about 15 minutes) and can be done online or at any of the many kiosks around the city. All you need is an international driver’s license, a credit card and your passport.

The Autolib’ program (fashioned after the highly successful Velib' program for renting and using bikes around Paris) has taken off handsomely since its implementation in November of last year. The super quiet, pollution free, Bolloré Bluecar EVs have met with superb reception from the business and non-business public alike.

Tres chic EVs
Whether it be for a quick one-way ride to the other side of town for a business rendez-vous or a round trip run to the market to pick up fresh produce, Autolib’ is the tres chic way to get around Paris in 2012.

What is clear is that the French Government and the City of Paris are very committed to the concept of EVs for city driving.

The Autolib’ program has now added recharging parking slots at the Autolib’ drop off points so that if someone with a Bolloré Bluecar EV not belonging to the Autolib program can also charge up their Non-Autolib' EV vehicle for a fee.

This feature dramatically increases the number of EV charging sites (for Non-Autolib vehicles) around the city of Paris, thus effectively addressing the “range anxiety” problem. The Autolib' vehicle recharge parking slots are labeled differently than the Non-Autolib vehicle slots for easy identification (see photos at bottom of this article).

The next step, hopefully, is to charge these vehicles at their charging points with solar panels. Let’s hope and see :-)

If you are coming to Paris this summer, be sure to add a ride along the Seine river bank in an Autolib' EV to your to-do list of things to see and do in Paris. Before leaving home, be sure to visit the Autolib' site at www.Autolib.eu (in English) for all the details.  

Au revoir et a bientôt a Paris!

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Albert Graham is a solar-charged driving and solar air conditioning enthusiast currently living in Paris, France. Born in Jamaica, Albert grew up on the sunny island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean where he dreamed about how some day all of that great sunshine could be harnessed and put to a greater use around the world. That day, hopefully, is now very near!

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