French billionaire Bollore brings electric hire cars to London

Wed Mar 12, 2014 2:41pm EDT
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By Costas Pitas

LONDON (Reuters) - First it was pedal power; now Londoners are being offered electric transport to dodge their way around the city.

French billionaire Vincent Bollore on Wednesday unveiled plans to park 3,000 electric cars on London streets by 2016, as part of a car share project that emulates the popular bike hire scheme started in 2010 under Mayor Boris Johnson.

Bollore, chief executive of the group bearing his name which set up the Autolib electric car-sharing program in Paris in 2011, said electric car hire could help cut congestion and reduce pollution in the British capital.

"Pollution becomes a nightmare ... so many cities where you can't even go out and the planes can't take off and you have to solve this problem," Bollore told Reuters at the launch of the scheme alongside one of the compact, silver-and-white cars.

Facing tougher environmental regulation and growing demand for less polluting cars, automakers are investing heavily in electric vehicles, but many consumers have been deterred by the limited distance that electric cars can go on a single charge.

But Bollore, whose company has interests in transport, media and electricity storage, said the yet-to-be named car hire scheme would be serviced by 6,000 charging points installed around London by 2018, up from the current 1,400.

Users will be able to hire a car for 10 pounds ($16.63) an hour, using a smartphone app to find a pick-up point, then leave it at one of an unspecified number of locations.

CAR SHARE   Continued...

Vincent Bollore, CEO of investment group Bollore, poses by an electric car following a news conference in London March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris