. . . Its BlueIndy car share, backed by the same French company that runs Autolib', was launched on Sept. 2 with an initial fleet of 52 cars, which will expand to 500, with 200 recharging stations planned. BlueIndy's general manager, Scott Prince, says demand has "exceeded our expectations," with more than 500 people signing up in the first two weeks. BlueIndy users register on its website, then can opt for a one-time rental costing $8 for the first 8 minutes and 40¢ a minute after that, or a weekly, monthly, or annual membership offering per-minute costs as low as 20¢.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has said he's "delighted to welcome BlueIndy as a clean, affordable transit option" for residents and visitors to Indiana's capital, which like many midsize U.S. cities doesn't have much mass transit. Ballard ponied up $6 million in city funds to top off the $41 million being spent on the program by Groupe Bolloré, the French manufacturer of the four-seat, battery-powered cars, which have a range of 150 miles between recharges.
BlueIndy will be an important test for Groupe Bolloré, which hopes to create a worldwide market for the lithium metal polymer batteries that power the cars. Bolloré spent more than €3 billion ($3.4 billion) to develop the technology, and Vincent Bolloré, the chairman and chief executive, has said he is keen to test its performance in Indiana's cold winters and hot summers. "Indiana shouldn't be more complicated than Paris," he told Bloomberg News this year . . .The story goes on to concede there has been local opposition to Mayor Ballard breaking numerous state and local laws before trying to illegally wire $6 million in city funds to the company as additional start-up capital, although the Bloomberg story doesn't describe it in those terms.
BlueIndy has gotten off to a bumpy start in this city of 850,000, host to America's most famous auto race. Local business owners have groused about recharging stands taking up parking space outside their establishments, while disgruntled taxpayers complain about the expenditure of public funds on a project run by a French company. Some city council members, angry that the mayor didn't seek their approval for the outlay, have even threatened to have BlueIndy cars towed off the streets. Autolib' has drawn little criticism in France.Bollore tells Bloomberg the local opposition will "die down" once people see the benefits of the "silent, zero exhaust" cars on the streets. There's no mention of the problems people are having in communicating via satellite hook-up to the support staff in Paris since the company won't spend any money hiring local employees to provide support services. When does the Indianapolis media plan to investigate the use of a nonprofit's employees to serve as ambassadors for the electric car sharing service? I'm pretty sure that's not kosher. But then again our local media has shown little interest in investigating the fact that officials would have been indicted in almost any other city in America for doing what Mayor Ballard and members of his administration did to foist this electric car sharing service on Indianapolis residents. Politicians don't break a bunch of laws just for the hell of it unless there's something in it for them.
Check out the Lindedin profile of Blue Indy's GM Scott Prince: