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City unveils first car-sharing charging station

May 19, 2014

A French company unveiled its first electric car charging station in Indianapolis, where drivers will be able to rent plug-in vehicles for short-term trips later this year.

Bollore Group Chairman Vincent Bollore joined Mayor Greg Ballard for Monday's ribbon-cutting at the downtown charging station that's part of the company's $35 million partnership with the city.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said the public can try out one of Bollore's Bluecars starting Tuesday at the demonstration site, 14 E. Washington St. Lotter said Indianapolis' electric car-sharing service will be the nation's largest.

But the electric car service won't be up and running until year's end, when 125 cars will be available at 25 charging sites. Bollore plans to eventually have 500 electric cars in Indianapolis, IBJ reported last June.

“We thought it would be good to start with a medium-size” U.S. city, said Bollore, whose company already runs similar programs in Paris. “We want to show the electric car is the best solution for the future.”

The U.S. arrival of the Bollore Group, which makes its own lithium metal polymer batteries for its electric cars, is the latest development in an emerging segment led by Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc., maker of the premium Model S sedan, and Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf electric hatchback. Bollore is counting on U.S. drivers who want access to a low-pollution alternative to gasoline-burning cars.

Rental rates for the Indianapolis system have not yet been announced, but Bollore said they should as little as $10 an hour.

Bollore’s Bluecars, used in the Autolib car-share program in Paris, travel as far as 150 miles per charge, he said. To break even in Indianapolis, which had about 835,000 people in 2012, the program needs at least 20,000 annual subscribers, Bollore said.

Bollore Group, based in the Paris suburb of Puteaux, has assets in the transport, agriculture, energy and communications industries, including stakes in French advertiser Havas SA and Paris-based phone and entertainment company Vivendi SA.

Vincent Bollore is the 10th-richest person in France, with an estimated personal fortune of $6 billion dollars, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Indianapolis Power & Light is seeking a rate hike to cover $16 million in installation and other costs related to the project. The impact on IPL’s typical residential customer would be 44 cents a month, starting in January 2018, according to a petition IPL filed April 11 with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. A evidentiary hearing

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