Thursday, October 6, 2011

3 Benefits of Autolib You Aren't Expecting

The funny thing about sharing, is that there are usually a whole bunch of unexpected and unanticipated benefits that people don’t expect and don’t anticipate.

For Zipcar, sharing rather than owning your own car meant that:
-- You can choose the car that fits the needs of each specific trip.
-- You have instant access to a “personal fleet” of 6000 cars parked across North America and England.
-- You never have to maintain or repair it

Try doing that with your car!

So what will AutoLib bring that is a surprise? By writing this down, I’m anticipating, which kinds of ruins my argument. But, here goes:Unanticipated Benefits of AutoLib

-- Electric cars will be demystified. Everyone will have seen them going around everywhere, experienced their commonness, and lots and lots of people will have driven them. Today, the arguments and fears about electric cars are by people who have no first-hand experience. Now, this discussion around electric cars will stem from a first-hand experience. Much better!

-- We’ll automatically choose our mode of travel based on the trip, rather than mindlessly and routinely getting into our own cars. This will be a sea change for many people. What an idea! Should I walk, bike, metro, taxi, Buzzcar or AutoLib to get where I need to go in the city? And this new way of thinking will just be second nature, like checking the weather when you wake up in the morning before you choosing your clothes for the day.

-- We will travel comfortably and routinely between different modes of transport. The whole frightening and ugly-named concept -- “multi-modal”-- will be a natural reality that includes the car in those mode choices. Very few people will be mono-modal: only public transit or only by car. It should bring these two groups together, less divisiveness between the camps. It will make negotiating for rights of way between alocation of public space have more consensus.

Read more!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autolib Beta Phase

After years of discussion and planning, and less than one year since the contract was awarded, Autolib went live today, October 2. It will have about 38 cars are the road, being driven by an invited set of users, and then go live to the public on December 1 with 250 cars. Over the next year, it is supposed to build out to 3000 cars.

Autolib: 3000 electric cars, paid for in 1/2 hour increments, on demand, for use in greater Paris. Comes with parking! I think of them as taxis you drive yourself, with taxi-like prices: 5-7 euros the first half hour (after you've paid a gating fee) and even more the second and third half hours.

My first kneejerk reaction is the shock at the branding. I was thinking that at those prices, it was going to be heavily used by businessmen and well-to-do women to get around Paris. Now that I see them, I think they've lost this primary market.

Here is a picture of the station, which comes at a cost to each city town of 50,000€. For Paris, this will add up to 25 million euros.

The point of the station? It is a video camera connection with customer service who will help you scan your license and then see your face, and thus decide to sell you a membership to AutoLib.

Here is what I find really shocking: this enormous cost is all because the French do not have electronic driving records that can be checked in real time. This is a pain that I've been feeling with Buzzcar. We get around it by also asking for a photo of the individual's identity card as well as a proof of residence at an address (a bill less than 3 months old). I've advised the French government that they really need to bring their driving records into the computer age. It hadn't occurred to me the size of this cost, in Paris alone, until I did the math on the Autolib stations.

So I don't sound crotchedy. Here is a picture of me being given a test drive in an Autolib by a smart, bright, well informed young man who is an "Autolib Ambassador."

Oh, to give you the link to Autolib:

not .COM (library management software, whatever that is)
not .FR (taken by a carsharing service in Lyon)
not .ORG (Lyon group has that as well)

but autolib.EU


Read more!