The BlueIndy car sharing system in Indianapolis, launched in late 2015, was recently closed (on May 21, 2020) after less than five years of service (with a lot of controversy surrounding financing the investment).
The main reason of the failure is lack of customers - only a few thousand members were active, while there should be an order of magnitude more - and ultimately lack of profitability.
The project started with 50 cars (Bollore's BlueCars), 25 stations and 125 charging spots (5 per station), which increased to 280 cars and 85 stations in September 2017. The number of cars and stations as of January 2020 was respectively: 200 and 92 (with 455 AC Level 2 charging points).
The system was expected to further expand (and reach 500 cars, 200 stations and 1,000 charging spots), but there was no hope and in late 2019 the city announced the end in Spring 2020.
According to media reports, BlueIndy noted a cumulative number of 11,000 users and 180,000 rides over more than four years.
There were two options to use the cars:
- $8 for 20 minutes + $0.40 per additional minute
- $9.99 per month + $4 for 20 minutes + $0.20 per additional minute
The total investment cost is estimated at $50 million ($41 from Bollore, $6 million from the city and $3 million from the Indianapolis Power & Light Co.).
BlueCars and charging infrastructure
Now, part of the fleet with removed key components/parts (including LMP batteries) ended up at the scrapyard. One of the media reports shows about 50 units, which unfortunately were not sold even as gliders (without motors/batteries). Others might get a new life at some point in the Los Angeles system.
The old lithium-metal polymer (LMP) batteries (30 kWh each) will be used in energy storage projects around the world. Those are quite a special type of battery, which require a high-temperature of about 60°C in normal operation. It means that they like to work 24/7 (charge/discharge) or will suck energy at the charging point just to remain hot when idle to stay ready for use.
The charging infrastructure might be now, at least partially, re-purposed for general EVs, but many businesses also would like to get back the public parking spots in front of their shops.
Media reports about the BlueIndy: