French electric vehicle sharing system coming to Indianapolis

City could get 500 cars

INDIANAPOLIS - A French company called Bollore Group plans on expanding its electric car-sharing program on the streets of Indianapolis.

The system, called AutoLib, lets people pay a membership to have access to hundreds of electric vehicles and charging stations.

They drive them, drop them off and pay a fee every time they use the service.

The plan is for the program to be up and running in Indianapolis in 2014.

Under the deal, the city could possibly have 500 cars and 1,200 charging stations available for subscribers to use.

"This is going to help companies and government and people who don't necessarily want a second car or don't even need a first car to be able to take short one-way trips to some of the key destinations in our city," said Marc Lotter, spokesman for Mayor Greg Ballard's office.

Sources say the French company had been looking to expand and had a number of cities on its list.

It appears that after Mayor Greg Ballard gave a speech in December about converting the city's fleet to electric vehicles by 2025, the French company decided to visit Indianapolis.

"He made a very public announcement last December that he was going to migrate his fleet to electric vehicle. No one else in the United States has taken the same position. So it was a very easy decision," said Herve Muller with Bollore Group.

Bollore is one of the 500 largest companies in the world and has picked Indianapolis to be the first city outside of France in which to replicate the program.

Sources say company officials visited several times before deciding to pick the Circle City, which one day might have the distinction of housing the nation's largest all-electric car sharing service.

The initial investment is said to be in the range of $35 million and could involve 100 new jobs to provide 24-7 customer service. Bollore will put up all of the money that will go toward purchasing the cars and installing the charging stations.

They will hire about 100 people to run the service, which local tourism experts said will open up all of the city to the 22 million annual visitors.

"This initiative, unquestionably, will help us sell and market this great city," said Chris Gahl with Visit Indy.

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