By on March 19, 2015

Vincent Bollore with his Bluecars in Paris

EV consumers in France and beyond needn’t wait months for a Tesla Model S, thanks to Vincent Bollore’s Autolib service and Bluecar EVs.

Bloomberg reports the Bollore Group founder and chairman created Autolib to put EV fans behind the wheel of one of his Pininfarina-designed Bluecars for the equivalent of 20 cents per minute. Though the cars aren’t as premium as a Model S, Bollore says it’s the electrical systems powering the Bluecar that matter, proclaiming them to be “far superior” to Tesla’s efforts.

The technology involves lithium metal polymer batteries, developed by Bollore’s Blue Solutions. The batteries, which don’t need liquid electrolytes to store power, are not only lighter in weight than lithium-ion packs, but can be charged up to 3,000 times, and are stable at temps up to 338 F. No one else has gone for the technology thus far, however; Bollore invested €3 billion ($3.2 billion) over three years to develop the EVs and the battery technology now in use by his ventures.

Meanwhile, the billionaire has plans to bring Autolib and Bluecars to the United States, opening the first branch in Indianapolis this June, with Los Angeles a possible second U.S. candidate down the road. Bollore hopes to have 500 cars and 200 stations throughout the city — chosen for its strong car culture and varying weather conditions — by the end of this year.

Back home, Autolib has 3,000 Bluecars and 900 stations in service, with around 70,000 customers paying a €120 ($130 USD) annual fee to drive the EVs; 500 more cars and 200 more stations are expected to come online in 2015.

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18 Comments on “Vincent Bollore Bringing ‘Superior’ EV Tech, Car-Sharing Service To US Market...”

  • avatar

    I see a Frenchman standing in front of some cars which have been crashed repeatedly, and rebuilt by students at a technical college. Or a Mitsubishi dealership.

    Really, Indianapolis as your USA premiere location? Not so sure about that. Everybody in Indy has their own car already. Try LA first.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Those are Parisian “Autolib” car-share cars. They look deliberately frumpy because Paris is the bumper-parking capital of the world. Bumpers may be painted for the US version.

      • 0 avatar

        They’d better be, because we care about image a lot more than what those things are providing!

        But the parking thing in Paris makes sense, I’ve heard about that before.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what I was going to say. Indy is an extreme “car city”. Nobody walks and only the truly poor or too young take public transit there. Everybody else drives. Of all cities, why there!?

  • avatar

    My questions:

    #1 How much time does it take to break even on an EV taxi?
    I’m guessing the operating expenses are lower?

    #2 Can EV’s batteries and drive motors/ mechanicals hold up to the demands placed on them by being forced to operate virtually 80% of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      See 7 up

      80%? That is over 19 hours.

      But regardless, the motors ate vastly better suited for this duty compared to ICE’s. They don’t “idle” not to mention they have little moving parts, mainly 2 bearings.
      Transmissions are incredibly simple if not single speed. The rest of the drive train is the same.
      batteries – that’s the only issue but it’s seems this company has experience running these in car shares in a very busy city.

      I love engines, but an electric motor is the ideal motivation source for a vehicle. If charging times become equivalent to filling a tank and capacity exceeds a reliable 300 miles, combustion engines will cease to exist for almost all light passenger vehicles almost overnight

      • 0 avatar

        I live in NYC where some cabs are operated 24/7.

        • 0 avatar

          Even if an electric is operating 24/7 the electric motors aren’t.

          An ICE needs to idle for those 24/7 – unless the cab is parked and the driver turns the key to accessory. An electric vehicle’s electric motor isn’t running when the vehicle stops, and I would speculate even before that if the computer system is anticipating a full stop is coming up.

          A ye’ old Crown Vic running 24/7 for NYC taxi duty is whirring away in stop and go traffic – an electric isn’t.

          • 0 avatar

            No word on cost or KWH per mile, range, or charging times or energy density. It would have been nice to get some idea of whether, and how much better the battery tech is, but all we have is Bollore’s word that it’s better. The rental rate is $12/hr.

            I can’t help thinking Bollore’s nuts to start in the US in Indpls. Boston, NYC, or DC would have made sense, but in the sprawling midwest where most people have cars???

            regarding ICE taxis being on all the time, the engines wear less that way because there’s very little running while cold. Consumer Reports once tried to compare different types of oils by putting them in new taxis, and tearing down the engines after 60,000 miles. They could not detect any wear in any of the engines. Now, energy use is another matter.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, interesting concept – charging per minute.

    Imagine renting the car to go visit someone, how fast can you say: hi, nice to see you again, love you, bye?

    Couldn’t help it.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Car-share spots (with chargers) are everywhere in Paris, so you wouldn’t pay for the time when you’re not using the car, and you don’t have to pick up the same car on your way back.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I wonder why Tesla sticks with battery packs comprised of thousands of laptop style Li batteries? The final battery pack is a thin rectangle. So it seems that a lot of space is wasted packing cylinders into a rectangular space. I can understand why Tesla used this geometry for their first car, but not for the Model S. The form factor of the LI batteries in the GM volt seems better suited.
    If Ballore’s battery chemistry is legit and not vaporware and also cost effective, they have a big advantage.

  • avatar

    This was announced last year and they’ve been offering test drives from the circle center mall downtown

    The next time Derek is in Indy, he should take one for a spin and write a review on it.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised he isn’t considering Portland, since it has a high EV take rate and lots of car share users.

  • avatar

    These cars are a far cry from the B0 Bluecar concept:

    Which is a shame.

  • avatar
    Emily Lopez

    Well, it’s a good effort to provide alternative service station so that who are in need of servicing they can check in immediately, as the EV service points are very rare in market currently. As a owner he/she should should posses the basic knowledge about his EV so it will be easy to find a better mechanic or service point for his/her EV.

  • avatar

    Well, it’s a good effort to provide alternative service station so that who are in need of servicing they can check in immediately, as the EV service points are very rare in market currently. As a owner he/she should should posses the basic knowledge about his EV so it will be easy to find a better mechanic or service point for his/her EV.

  • avatar

    Can someone link to a road test of one of these beasts? They combine a battery with a supercapacitor. Wikipedia says they have a 130 mile range and 6.3 second 0-60 time. While in Paris I saw them everywhere but didn’t have the chance to drive one. They are oddly large: short but tall, like a 2-door C-Max, and IIRC with a glass-wall back hatch for visibility and space (so should be pretty roomy). The body is unpainted aluminum and the bumpers are impact-resistant. Apparently they’re quite expensive to lease as private autos, given the technology and the fact they’re built to withstand remaining in use 24-7.

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