Renault will build a small version of the electric vehicle under the “Autolib” self-service, with the concept of purpose-built, rechargeable hire cars having for the first time a big name behind it.
Renault revealed on Tuesday a joint venture with conglomerate Bollore, the current operator of the existing Paris Autolib fleet, with the purpose of building three-seater versions of the cars at its Dieppe factory in northwest France. The new company will be 70% owned by Bollore and 30% by Renault. According to a Renault spokesman, production of the new Renault-badged version will start in the second half of 2015.
The Autolib city electric cars, launched at the end of 2011, have a distinctive stainless steel-look and have now reached 2,500 units in Paris, with 5,000 recharging points. After a user has subscribed, Autolib cars can be booked on the Internet and hired directly either by the part day or for longer periods of time from their roadside charging stations using a smart card and an access code.
Bollore has 10,000 recharging points running across France and plans to have 4,000 of its Bluecars on French roads by the end of 2015. The Bluecar is a four-seater model produced in Italy outside of the Autolib scheme. Mainly due to the Bollore schemes, France has the most electric vehicles on the road in Europe and ranks third in the world, behind the United States and Japan.
By Gabriela Florea