Bollore Group chairman predicts Indy profitability

The BlueIndy car-sharing service will need 15,000 to 20,000 regular users to break even in Indianapolis, Bollore Group Chairman Vincent Bollore said during a visit here Monday.

Bollore visited downtown to cut the ribbon at a demonstration site at 14 E. Washington St., where the general public can come try out the service, which uses an all-electric vehicle developed by Bollore Group, a French conglomerate that operates in the logistics and transportation industries.

Vincent Bollore mugVincent Bollore

Bollore said Indianapolis will be the company's first U.S. market partly because of Mayor Greg Ballard's commitment to alternative energy but also for branding reasons. IBJ first reported Bollore Group's plan last June.

"Indianapolis has always been some sort of green light for the cars," Bollore said. "It's a very fast car," he added. He cautioned drivers to be aware of pedestrians, who won't be able to hear the all-electric cars coming.  

The firm, which operates car-sharing services in France and London, is working with the city of Indianapolis and Indianapolis Power & Light to develop 24 more car-rental and charging locations. The company hopes to eventually have 200 car-sharing sites throughout the city. The service rollout is dependent on an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approval of IPL's request for a rate increase to cover its costs to extend the power infrastructure to the BlueIndy sites.

Bollore said he expects to reach the break-even point Indianapolis in three to four years. Regular users spend about $1,000 a year on the service, including annual subscriptions and rental time, he said.

While the company hasn't revealed a price sheet for the Indianapolis, Bollore said an annual subscription will cost about $100, and rentals will cost about $5 for 30 minutes.

Users tend to start with a one-day subscription, then commit to one month and finally a year, Bollore said. 

The French company says its presence in Indianapolis will require a $35 million investment. Bollore said Monday that it will spend about $15 million a year on operations. While the car-rental service is fully automated, BlueIndy will employ "ambassadors," who customers can call for help. The company expects to have about 100 employees in Indianapolis. 

Paris, which was Bollore's initial car-sharing market, will break even this year, its third year of operations, said Herve Muller, vice president and general manager with Blue Solutions, Bollore's smart-grid division.

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