Green cars to rival Boris bikes

Philip Pank, The Times, March 13 2014

The “Boris bike” is morphing into the Bluecar as an electric hire vehicle that has opened up affordable green motoring to Parisians makes its way across the Channel.

Vincent Bolloré, the French billionaire, announced plans yesterday to let up to 3,000 of the compact vehicles loose on the streets of London, drawing power from 6,000 charge points.

Drivers will pay a monthly subscription fee of £5 plus £10 for each hour of motoring, which, Mr Bolloré says, is far cheaper than owning, insuring, maintaining and running a private car.

On a test drive yesterday, the vehicle proved adequate for London driving. Acceleration was more like that of a milk float than other low-emission vehicles, but for businessmen travelling to meetings or couples on an evening out, the four-seater car with a theoretical top speed of 68mph will certainly be cheaper than a black cab and more appealing than bicycle hire in the rain.

Mr Bolloré acknowledged that it might not be the best electric car on the market, but it was the cheapest and the most resilient, able to cope with 30 drivers a day.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, hopes that the car-sharing club will kick-start an electric car revolution. Drivers will be able to reserve a car at a specific location using a mobile phone app or a call centre.

Paris has 45,000 active users who between them take up to 13,000 journeys a day.

London air quality remains worse than in most other European cities, and since 2010 has been in breach of EU limits for nitrogen dioxide.

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