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Indianapolis to get 500-vehicle electric car-sharing system

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City officials said Monday that a French company plans to expand its car-sharing business into Indianapolis by establishing a fleet of 500 electric cars.

Mayor Greg Ballard said the addition of Bolloré Group's $35 million system to a plan to convert the city's 3,100-vehicle fleet to alternative energy sources by 2025 would give Indianapolis more charging stations than any other city in the nation.

The proposed Indianapolis system would have up to 1,200 charging stations at up to 200 locations. The program will be open to private, government and corporate users.

The company's Paris service, called Autolib, opened in late 2011. Bolloré said 37,000 customers in France have used its fleet of 1,700 cars to take 2 million trips between 823 rental locations. The system has 4,200 charging stations.

More than 75 percent of the electricity generated in France comes from the country's 59 nuclear plants, while more than 80 percent of Indiana's electricy is generated by coal-fired plants.

“This program provides a great opportunity for downtown workers, residents and visitors to get around town in a car without owning one,” Ballard said in a prepared statement.  “This service allows a person, government or company to only pay for a car when they need and want it.  They aren’t paying for fuel, insurance, maintenance and parking costs when the vehicle is not in use.”

Officials said the program will be based around short one-way rentals with users paying a daily, monthly or annual membership fee. Members will receive swipe cards that will allow them access to the cars and the chargers. Rates for Indianapolis haven't been determined, but membership in Paris costs $16 per month and a 20-minute trip costs about $4.50, officials said.

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  • Urban Areas
    Markus: Not too likely these will be going out into rural areas. Car share services work best where there are lots of people living more closely together who can do most of their daily trips by walking or using transit - and then they use the car share for the occasions when they need to go a little further. Rural areas are not likely to see a lot of charging stations -- at least not through this Bollore' Group's program. Car sharing helps densify urban areas and does not work too well in rural areas.
  • Great!
    This is a very positive step. Congrats to Mayor Ballard and to Energy Systems Network for helping to facilitate this through their Project Plug-In.
  • Can't wait
    I cannot wait to hear more after the formal announcement. Having more transit options is important to me. I love Indy, but hate the cost of owning a car.
  • Expanded use
    These would be ideal for developers when they design new large apartment towers in rural areas. Place a station with cars on the street level or basement. Many more residents could then avoid having to purchase a car, and a personal parking spot.

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