France: Paris needs plan B for Autolib
Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, met with car manufacturers and mobility service providers this Monday to study other solutions of shared electric mobility in the capital. Autolib, created and operated by French group Bolloré, is turning out to be a financial fiasco.
“We will project ourselves into a new model”, announced Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo. “Many free-floating car-sharing systems exist now and many manufacturers want to innovate in Paris.” That is why the Mayor met with Renault, PSA, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler, Drivy, Ubeeqo, Zipcar, Citiz, Communauto, Car2Go, Vulog, Zencarz, Sixt, Herts and Clem’ in the city hall this Monday. The Mayor’s office estimates that 20.000 shared cars could be deployed in the next few year.
Paris is seeking out solutions to replace the failing Autolib program. Launched back in 2011 with a contract between the Bolloré group and the municipalities around Paris, Autolib provides shared electric cars to citizens for a small fee. At first, the French group insured that by 2023 it would create a turnover of 56 million euro.
In 2016 though, Bolloré transformed the profit into the not-so-small losses of 179 million euro. No need to say that this information created tensions between the group and the French capital. An independent mediation concluded that the city should pay 88 million euro and that Bolloré should take up the rest. The group rejects that proposition and now demands 233 million euro to the syndicate chaired by Paris.
“We have arrived to the conclusion that the service has reached its limit”, explains mobility consultant cabinet 6-t’s director Nicolas Louvet. The relatively small number of cars, blocked parking spaces and the state of the cars have jointly discouraged users. On the other hand, Vincent Bolloré is accused of not advertising his product enough.
“If he managed to sell his battery around the world, Bolloré wouldn’t care about loosing money in Paris”, adds Nicolas Louvet. He also points out that marketing isn’t the French entrepreneur’s forte because he didn’t see the rising of Uber, electric bicycles or shared scooters that are now all major competitors.
“Perhaps without Autolib other manufacturers, such as PSA or Renault, wouldn’t be active in that sector today”, adds Mr Louvet. It is true that in seven year, the Bluecars have helped raising the electric car’s credibility. Furthermore, 4.500 charging stations have been put up and belong to the community. It’s a major advantage for any new mobility provider that could take up Bolloré’s place.