Autolib Cancels Contract With Bollore – Electric Car Sharing Dead

JUL 5 2018 BY MARK KANE 40

Around seven years after the launch of the first and biggest all-electric car sharing system – Autolib in Paris – it’s terminated because of massive losses.


The Syndicat Autolib ‘Vélib’ Métropole (SAVM), which brings together the 103 partner municipalities, decided to end the scheme before it expires in 2023 when it saw the bill of €46 million ($56 million) of annual deficit (€233.7 million by 2023), which by 2023 would increase to cumulative losses of €300 million ($350 million).

Autolib already lost around €60 million and there is no increase in the number of users. All the while, the company received criticism about the poorly maintained and dirty vehicles.

More than 3,200 individual charging stalls are expected to remain installed for general use, while the 4,000 Bollore Bluecars soon will be removed from service. It’s not yet clear whether another car sharing system will fill the gap.

Bollore, on the other hand, will be looking for justice in court to receive compensation of up to €300 million.

“Autolib operator Bollore, owned by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, had asked local governments to help cover a projected 46-million-euro annual deficit until 2023 when its contract originally was set to expire. Paris officials pushed back, saying they had received inquiries from other automakers who could provide the service without subsidies. Among the companies expressing interest: Renault SA, PSA Group, BMW AG and Daimler AG.

It’s unclear when the Autolib cars will disappear from Paris’s streets. While Bollore said it hoped to still be able to find an agreement with the local governments, the city said discussions are under way with the company to determine a date to end the operation. Paris will seek to rapidly develop new car-sharing services and the city has had “very constructive discussions” with automakers, rental companies and startups in recent days, it said.”

The open question now is how Bollore’s Blue Solution car sharing system will do in other cities around the world – including Indianapolis and Los Angeles.

Source: Green Car Congress, Bloomberg

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40 Comments on "Autolib Cancels Contract With Bollore – Electric Car Sharing Dead"

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No one wants to do car sharing. You buy or lease a car for personal mobility, personal freedom not to share with the rest of the world

You clearly must live under a rock. Car sharing is growing massively in cities especially under younger people. Because car ownership is not attractive anymore. The average car is not used for 23h a day. So it‘s a waste of space in cities and so on and so on.

Do you have any source for that claim? Have car ownership stopped increasing?

In Paris a house that have a car or more is about 45% only.
It was astonishing fact for me. And people borrow cars or rent a car for half a day.
And BlaBlaCar is very very popular for more and more Parisian.
Actually I have the occasion to use Autolib, once with a friend of mine, and he don’t buy a car anymore. He just told me that he will use what Renault will propose to replace Autolib.

Sure, but then again we have the stats that shows that car ownership per person has no sign of slowing down.

I’m not as shocked as you are by Will’s comment. This reflects western (or at least north-american) mentality which has only been nurtured by big auto over the past 100+ years…. I suspect it will be much more difficult to break said mentality than people first thought…. IMHO it might even take a few decades.
Keep in mind that people regard their vehicle as an extension of their home (ex. storing items in it for regular use, like gymbag or other equipment) and in some cases people think of their car as an extension of themselves, it defines who they are. Not defending the logic behind it, just stating a fact.

Yes it’s the American mentality. Cars are useful and it’s ownership brings massive economic activity to this country. Look we are talking about mostly cars on this site. I lived in NYC and the Subways and buses were my main mode of transport but when you move out that region you need a car it’s just simple

I tend to disagree. Living in a heavily built up area public transport is often the better and much cheaper option, especially if there is an underground rail service. It can take hours to drive a couple of miles in some cities, so locals tend to walk, ride a bike or use public transport.

If you live in the suburbs or country it doesn’t make much sense either. Leased cars are getting cheaper and finance on a used car has never been easier.

My previous work employed circa 350 people, with an age range from 18 to 70, and we we’re offered to join an early car sharing scheme that another company within the same group was starting. Not a single person signed up for it. In the local region there is about 5000 staff, apparently the number of enquiries was in the low double digits. People just weren’t interested in paying out to not own a car and to share transport with others.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, it works in some cases, but I disagree that car ownership is not attractive anymore.

Good analysis, thanks. I have no doubt that there will be a few small-scale ride sharing schemes, but the idea that there’s going to be a massive shift from personal car ownership to ride sharing… that’s just not gonna happen. As you say, there is too much competition from mass transit.

Ride sharing will never grow beyond a small niche market.

I’d gladly pay extra to not have slob nose snot, sweat glands, urine , excrement, viruses, and bacteria and whatever else disgusting I missed from shared use in my vehicle. A premium well worth the cost. Also I know that the vehicle I drive has a perfect maintenance record not to put unnecessary risk on my family.

Good theory, but I’m going to assume from your comment that you’ve never actually used a car sharing vehicle. Car2Go cars in my town are almost always far cleaner and better maintained than most private cars I’ve ever been in. Most people’s cars are pig sties (although I’ll allow that your car might get cleaned weekly and not have a passenger footwell full of fast food wrappers). And to the extent that other people have touched the steering wheel that I’m using, I’m not conceited enough to believe that my hands are so much cleaner than other people’s. Anyway, aren’t you aware of the hygiene hypothesis? 😉

“Car sharing is growing massively in cities especially under younger people.”

Sorry, but wishful thinking on your part does not actually change reality.

What this article shows is the reality, which is that very few people are interested in ride sharing.

Arguments in favor of ride sharing never passed a reality check. Ride sharing is pretty much the same as carpooling, and the same reasons most people don’t participate in carpooling are the same reasons they won’t participate in ride sharing.

Cars may only be DRIVEN/in_motion for an hour a day, but many are used effectively all day long for storage of personal items and what-not. I for one would not want to remove everything from my vehicle and then replace it each time I park it and pick it back up.

IMHO: Car-sharing will in most cases increase(!) problems in cities because
– many people who couldn’t/didn’t want to afford a (second) car will now also drive a car sometimes instead of using public transportation or a bicycle.
– IMHO there’re 2 types of commuters: One is using public transportation (usuall quite good inside cities) or bicycle – if both not possible -> car which is expensive. So people driving with a car into the city are usually from “outside” where’s usually no car-sharing, especially no free-float one. So even if they manage to get car-sharing car, they would have to pay for it during work – what’s very expensive. And with free-float, they can’t be sure to get a car when they want to drive home.
Beside things like that I know many people who even have problems to buy a suitable car where they can look onto the street _and_ use the pedals _and_ the seat belt won’t like cut their throat (no, according to law they’re not handicaped, a little bit to “tall”). They’ll often have massive problems with rented cars!
Sometime you need a tow-bar which is always hard to find for cars rented in any way.


You said cities. Like mega cities but what about rual America or the mid west cities and Great Plains. They will think it’s for the poor and cars wil look and be dirty

Just to give a comparison with Car2Go in their most successful German city, Hamburg, on average the car is moved 2h and 40 minutes a day. So still 21 h and 20 minutes standing around.

And once you want to capture all those people just commuting to and from work, all at the same time, that ratio will just get worse.

are you kidding? Car sharing is pretty much a necessity for sustainable cities. Like it or not, it’s part of the future game-plan.

Large cities are already served by mass transit and taxi services. What does “ride sharing” provide that’s not already available from Uber?

You’re the one doing the kidding; you’re kidding yourself.

In theory, ride sharing is cheaper than taxi services, since you don’t have to pay the driver. And sometimes it can be more convenient than mass transit, depending on circumstances.

It’s interesting to note that once full autonomy becomes available, ride sharing and taxi services will become one…

“…once full autonomy becomes available, ride sharing and taxi services will become one…”

That’s absolutely correct. Do you know anyone who says “I’d like to give up my own car, if only taxi service was cheaper!”

Personally, I’ve never heard anyone say that.

I know people who already gave up their car for uber and if there were autonomous cars for half or a quarter the price per mile of uber I would do so as well (I’m driving less than 10,000 miles per year already). I’m living in Houston, TX a place where public transport is not really an option.

You know but not mainstream America that’s why it’s a niche. I never heard someone gave up thier car for Uber here in Ohio but nyc yes that’s because of the subways and rail in the region

I’d like to give up my own car, if only taxi service was cheaper!

This is a highly regional cultural thing. Here in Berlin, we have some districts where cars are still somewhat of a status symbol; but just a kilometre down the road, in more trendy neighbourhoods, you get more bragging rights for *not* owning a car…

But most car sharing is subscription base on a monthly fee like a car payment, why not just buy the damn car

In some cities, parking is a big problem. There owning a car is more of a pain in your butt than it’s worth. I see car sharing as having value in the dense inner city where people mostly rely on public transit and only rarely need a car.

But once you’re out in the suburbs you need a car frequently enough that it’s more worthwhile to simply own one. Especially considering something like a used Leaf can be bought dirt cheap. Sure, the range is low, but for just around town it works perfectly fine.

Ride sharing has its place. I own 2 cars, but I use the ReachNow BMW cars to get between my home in Seattle and SEATAC airport. It is way quicker than the buses, half the price of Uber/Lyft/taxis and saves parking fees.

No their not. Mass transit and better traffic patterns is the key to sustainable cities. Cars just take up a lot space and time. Cars a great for suburbia and mid-west cities and rual areas less dense cities

Car sharing is in no way a “necessity”. and it certainly will not make any difference to traffic congestion since it merely replaces a privately owned car on a journey with a shared car on a journey, it’s still a car taking up a space and arguably it makes congestion worse by replacing some element of public transport.

Nope I live in the real world.

As the article states, Paris is entertaining other offers. Electric car sharing isn’t dead. Autolib is dead. The typical Autolib car looks like it has never been washed, with interiors to match. When you find an available car, you may also find it impossible to leave as it is blocked in by double parked delivery trucks. Same with dropping one off. Parking in Paris is no different from any other large city. Uber is much easier and the regular cabs are excellent. They will all be electric eventually. In Paris traffic, the bike share service Velolib is often faster, much cheaper, and more fun.

Autolib is already losing cash. If you expect them to pay for car cleaning after every ride or day, will they raise rates or lose even more cash?

They’d get more revenue from the same cars, thus lose *less* cash.

They’d pay for the labor to clean them, expending more cash. Would the increased revenue offset the outlay?

My experience with Autolib is similar: The cars are always filthy, dented and poorly parked. I haven’t used the system myself, but I’ve seen it in Paris several times. Another weakness: fixed Autolib parking spots.

I’m a very happy Car2Go user [in Stuttgart, where they’re all electric 😀 ] and the whole system is basically the opposite of Autolib. The cars are almost always cleaner than most private cars I’ve been in, and the floating system means that you can park or pick up pretty much anywhere you want. Plus they’re EVs here, so that makes me about 500% more likely to use them than if they were fossils. That’s the way forward for car sharing.

Renault can convert the failure of Autolib in a success due some factors:
The cars will uses Renault are much better than Autolib ones. So, they are more attractive for the potential users.
Renault can offer variety of cars. From the little and funny Twizy, to a little van like the Kangoo if somebody needs for example to transport a wheelchair, passing for the successfull and nice Zoe. They can cover more necesities.
Due the scale fabrication, the Renault’s cars are cheaper than Bolloré Bluecar.
Renault has huge ammounts of money. And they don’t need to be profitable in a short period of time.
Renault can obtain other benefits and can appreciate the good image returns for a company that bets for the EV.
People can rent a Renault EV before to take a purchase decission. Probably, another Renault.
Renault has a good image and generates more confidence

If you guys were in city management you guys will go bankrupt with you pipeline dreams

I don’t know. Autolib to me sounds like it’s poorly run. There are other successful car sharing services out there, so it can be done economically. Granted there are other poorly run ones as well.

Renault has a succesfull recent history in managing so I think if their bet for that business, they think can make it profitable. And as I said before, thay can find another kind of benefits, not only economical.

The Bolloré cars Autolib in Paris used need energy when they are parked. And they are parked most of the time. So Paris was paying for electricity while cars were not used. Car sharing should never be done with these kind of very un-ecological cars. Renault, whose batteries won’t loose any charge while parked, are much better suited. Bolloré should be forced to stop the production of their cars and stop all their car sharing companies worldwide, because loosing charge while parked is bad for the environment and a money pit for the cities.