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Car Sharing Could Be the Electric Vehicle’s Killer App

Paris’s Autolib maximizes the advantages of electric cars

Parisians have learned to love electric cars by sharing them. Since the late 2011 launch of the French capital’s Autolib car-sharing program, Parisians have taken its fleet of 1800 electric vehicles (EVs) on more than 2 million trips using 4000 dedicated charging points. That makes Paris one of the world’s EV meccas, with more battery-powered cars on the road and more charging points than nearly any other city.

Now Paris’s EV car-sharing vision is spreading. Autolib’s operator, Bolloré, expects to launch a program in Lyon, France, next month and is preparing further installations in Bordeaux, France; Indianapolis; and an as-yet-undisclosed Asian city. Competitors, including automakers such as Daimler and BMW, have launched their own EV car shares in more than a dozen European and North American cities [see table, “EV Car-Sharing Leaders”].

Mobility experts say these programs could accelerate EV deployment worldwide by expanding access and making EVs a normal part of the urban environment. “Car sharing is a good way for people to get experience with EVs and to demystify the whole process. It can help EVs prove themselves to the public,” says Richard Jones, deputy executive director of the Paris-based International Energy Agency
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