You hear critics complain that electric vehicles are toys for the rich. Or that they’re not workable in dense, urban environments where residents don’t have access to dedicated parking for overnight charging. Paris is showing how both objections can be overcome.
When I went to Paris in 2014, I blogged about the great transit system and pedestrian and biking culture. I also promised to discuss their electromobility options, which I saw in effect again this past trip. It’s worth finally reporting on.
Basically, for a variety of fee options, anybody in Paris can have access to a network of electric vehicles parked in central locations around the city. It’s called Autolib, and here’s an example from 2014:
As you can see, Paris provides this car-charing network with dedicated on-street parking and charging. Residents just check out the car and then use GPS to return it to charge at the closest available parking bank.
Costs aren’t bad, compared to the cost of owning a vehicle and parking spot in Paris, not to mention the hassle of trying to find a parking spot in the city. For example, if you needed to rent a vehicle for about an hour a week, it would cost about $15.
This model would be really useful in places like downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. And as more people want to live in those kinds of environments, services like Autolib provide a perfect low-pollution solution for when they need a car.
And here’s another photo from my most recent trip (I noticed the cars were dirtier this time, so maybe they need to build in a car-wash feature):