Saturday, September 05, 2015

Electric Car Website Not Too Keen On Blue Indy

A website devoted to promoting electric cars has quite an unflattering review of Blue Indy based on the experience of a would-be employee of the taxpayer-financed, for-profit car sharing service. Gas 2's Jo Borras tells about Indianapolis resident Jeremy Hall's experience with Blue Indy after he applied for a job with the start-up business, which he mistakenly thought would be an exciting opportunity. Hall, along with other persons seeking full-time employment with Blue Indy, went through a two-day training program. That's when things "started to get weird" according to Hall.
“When I walked into the office,” wrote Jeremy. “I was hit with the smell of new carpet and construction. ‘No big deal,’ I said to myself. But, as I went in further, I was shocked. A bay of computers sat on folding tables, white boards with tons of frantic scribbles (were) leaning against the wall, and the guy who was to train us for the event [seemed like] someone who could barely get your order right at McD’s.”  
A startup cutting corners and pushing up against construction deadlines while bringing on people who are barely qualified as stopgaps isn’t news, but Jeremy insisted that there was more to it.  
“It wasn’t long before I was asking tough questions that they ‘couldn’t answer’,” he explains. Adding that it was important that he “not be afraid to tell the customer ‘I don’t know’, and direct them to the website. Remember, they don’t even have an app yet.”  
Those “tough” questions included basic, logistical hurdles that formed the core of Blue Indy’s business process. Questions like, “If no cars are being used other than yours where do you park when you’re done?” (all of the spaces are used 100% of the time, unless a car is in transit) “How do you keep the cars clean?” and “What happens [if a customer’s] battery goes dead?”

Hall said his excitement further began to evaporate when his trainer told him to expect people to yell at you on the phone, the importance of keeping your anger in check and to avoid interacting with members of the public who don't support Blue Indy. Things turned worse when Hall got to test drive one of the cars. “Initially, I was stoked,” he says. “But I was severely disappointed. The seats were super soft but uncomfortable," Hall continued. "The seating position itself was very flat, like a sports car, but the A pillar made it very hard to see and the rearview mirror was worthless. Add in the that a safety feature (a sound warning device) was inoperable … and it took a good bit of work to get the navigation system and other important items such as the AC to fire up."

As it turned out, Hall's full-time job offer never materialized. He got a phone call later that night after his training telling him Blue Indy got an offer from a nonprofit organization to provide "volunteer" staff to the fledgling company. Gee, I wonder which of the nonprofit companies sharing office spaces with for-profit companies like Blue Indy and Vision Fleet in the Chase Tower is providing "volunteer" workers for the company?  Hall also has a warning about the insurance coverage you receive when driving the cars. Blue Indy only carries minimal personal liability property damage coverage to protect against the claims of others in which you are involved in an accident while driving one of their cars. Without your own separate auto insurance policy, you're likely to be disappointed when you find out what's not covered in the event of an accident.

You should check out the 36-page membership contract before using the service, which provides all sorts of reasons why you could be subject to additional charges or a loss of the service. It limits coverage to $50,000 per accident for bodily injury ($25,000 per person) and $10,000 for property damage and similar coverage for accidents involving uninsured/underinsured motorists. The membership terms make the member responsible for any damage to or theft of the car while in your control. The member is responsible for the payment of deductibles not covered by insurance. Failure to pay the deductibles results in the revocation of your membership. There's also an arbitration clause covering claims unless you opt out within 30 days or unless your claim can be adjudicated in a small claims court.

Interestingly, the membership contract says the service is subject to the 17% auto rental excise tax, although it expressly states it believes the car sharing service is different from other rental vehicle businesses and "even though We believe they should not apply to car sharing operations." Membership fees are subject to the state's 7% sales tax. Watch for attempts to be made during next year's legislation session to exempt electric car sharing services from the auto rental excise tax. Blue Indy's contract with the City states it is not subject to taxes and fees otherwise imposed on businesses of its sort, and that the City is required to reimburse the company to the extent it is required to pay those taxes or fees.


Pete Boggs said...

This is a major liability foisted on Indianapolis taxpayers; government misbehaving in the free market they don't understand. Insurance companies representing other drivers won't stop at Blue Indy subscribers... Enter again taxpayers, it will be obvious what bad theater this is.

Anonymous said...

This was my exact question -- what happens when you want to return a car to a kiosk/charge station and they're all full. Something that the Hack never addresses in her propoganda advertorial. This has circus written all over it.

Anonymous said...

Hall said his excitement further began to evaporate when his trainer told him to expect people to yell at you on the phone, the importance of keeping your anger in check and to avoid interacting with members of the public who don't support Blue Indy.

What is it with Indy? Avoid interacting with members of the public who don't support Blue Indy? This is so third grade. Rah, Indy.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How any of our Councilors can continue to hold their heads high in public with yet more bad news about the illegal Ballard Rental Car Business they allowed and/or will not stop is beyond me. If I have to hear one more time "we are helpless" or "we were helpless" I am going to wretch. They are not helpless in cashing their paychecks, are they?

Whatever we pay our City County Councilors it is just too damn much. Every day seems to bring more news of the disaster known as The Illegal Greg Ballard's Blue Indy battery powered rental car business that our impotent Council allowed to proceed. With charging stations of unknown safety right at your front door, with the loss of control of our own neighborhoods, with the double speak from the mouths of Democrat and Republican Councilors on the issue, and the fact that Blue Indy coal fueled cars can have a large net carbon footprint more so than petroleum fueled vehicles, is it any wonder respect for politicians is below that of a snake oil barker (my sincere apologies to snake oil barkers)?

And now these Councilors are trying to (again) use "public safety" and their cry for more police as a cover and to change the subject hoping we the people will forget their incompetence, their ineffectiveness, and their subservience to a lawless emperor mayor. I have news... we will not forget your duplicity and dishonesty and apparent reluctance to perform your jobs. As far as I am concerned as a registered voter, they all have ED... Electile Dysfunction... when I go to vote, if I go to vote.

It is no longer the case that only a governor 'must go', but rather when it comes to Indy's corrupt mayor, Indy's mayoral candidates served up by both ruling political class machines, and the CC Council politicians, I say "They ALL Must Go!"

Anonymous said...


How did the Bollore cars clear customs? Just because a car arrives at a dock doesn't mean it gets in. There are many overseas cars American collectors would love to have, but they can't get them to clear Customs. I don't believe the Bollore car is NHTSA approved, as that approval is quite extensive, so I don't know how the Bollore cars got past the pier.

I know I can't order a Bollore and pick it up in New Orleans.

What Port of Entry did the Bollore cars use? Who signed off on their Customs entry? If you do some FOIA, you might find the U.S. Government is behind this BlueIndy initiative.

Anonymous said...

Since BlueIndy purchased the vehicles from Bollore, was Indiana sales tax properly collected?

If the vehicles were purchased in Indiana, what dealer was used?

Were title fees and registration collected by the state?

Were certificates of origin properly collected by the State?

Were the vehicles inspected by the State prior to titling and registration?

Gary R. Welsh said...

The Blue cars are made by an Italian manufacturer for Bollore. No American dealer was involved in the transaction. They are being imported specifically for this car sharing service. The original cars were allowed to be brought into the country for demonstration purposes only since the cars had not been approved for use on American highways by the federal Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. I don't know whether they've subsequently been approved for use. The original demos could only be driven if a Blue Indy representative was present in the vehicle while it was being driven for demonstration purposes only.

Anonymous said...

There was a transfer from the manufacturer to BlueIndy. Is the manufacturer a registered manufacturer or dealer in Indiana or any state? If not, how did the transfer occur under Indiana law?

The transfer from Bollore to BlueIndy was taxable, creates a title, requires a certificate of origin, a BMV/ILEA inspection, a license plate, excise tax and ongoing state fees.

How did the cars clear Customs? How did the State grant titling and registration?

This bomb lands at the feet of Pence more than Ballard. Without the complicity of Pence's BMV, these cars never turn a wheel on an Indiana street.

Why is Pence cooperating? Why is Pence breaking Indiana law for the benefit of Ballard?

Charles M. Navarra said...

Look at the landscape of important questions about the illegal Ballard Blue Indy rental car business and charging stations that City Councilors apparently had neither the logic skills nor the spines to conceive and to pursue.

Will Indianapolis citizen voters see another complete capitulation by a Council at the ready to make the illegal legal?... to cavalierly toss away what we've been informed and informed often by the Chamber's own General Counsel breaks civil and criminal laws?... to tell us, in effect, 'we the people' have to obey the laws but the Councilors and their mayor and his underlings and "business associates" do not?

Will these charging stations remain and once again will we the people will turn to each other shaking heads in disgust and say, "I Told You So"...?

Oh, and a few respectful words to the Councilor who snidely remarked to me about the posting times concerned citizens like me post commentary on Mr. Welsh's Advance Indiana: Sensible, truthful, insightful commentary at 2:00 am is just as valid as the same being posted at 2:00 pm; who can sleep solidly through the night with all the damage being done to the concept of a system of laws rather than a system of "men"?

Anonymous said...

Criminal Enterprise Rental Car- "We'll pick your pocket"

Unknown said...

Interesting tidbits of information:

(1) BlueIndy Cars have a Tom Wood license plate holder on the back of the cars. I asked about this and was told Tom Wood is the local service center for these Bollore electric cars.

(2) BlueIndy is bizarrely collecting sales tax on private EV charging memberships by the hour. So, you pay $2 an hour to park and your bill says $2.14. This strikes me as wrong. I am currently seeking clarification from the Indiana DOR because while electricity is considered Tangible Personal Property in Indiana and therefore subject to sales tax, my general understanding is that only publically regulated utilities may sell electricity in Indiana. There may be an exception for electric co-op's. But, there are no exceptions for electric vehicle charging stations. So, in Indiana, they can only charge by increments of time or a flare rate, not by the kWh. So, all that to say, BlueIndy should not be collecting sales tax on parking / charging a private electric vehicle at BlueIndy stations.

(3) Your comment about BlueIndy having a contract with the city that reimburses them for taxes on the rental of their cars sounds crazy (I say this in a jokey-way, in a lighthearted tone). Can you please provide more information including the source of this information. It seems to me that if I rent a BlueIndy Car, for $8, and I pay the $1.36 in taxes (17% of $8), then I should get that amount refunded to me. What you're essentially suggesting is that BlueIndy collects the $1.36 from me and hands it over to the Indiana Department of Revenue. Then, through contractual language in their deal with the City of Indianapolis, the City then, using my income tax dollars, gives $1.36 back to BlueIndy, even though it's simply a pass through tax that the private BlueIndy company never had to pay to begin with? If this is your assertion, please back it up with some stone cold facts so I can help you raise hell about it. :)

Brian Wells said...

Also... If you'd like some first hand experience using a privately owned electric car at a BlueIndy station, I am happy to volunteer the use of my Nissan Leaf for your experimentation.

Pete Boggs said...

Here's an article on the inorganic stupidity, which degrades into this environment or culture of surreal statism. When the consumptive sector / government employees outnumber the provider / productive sector; the organic trajectory is failure. Statism is not sustainable & their construction of Legoland is among their final acts reminiscent of Rome:

Anonymous said...

What does the city get for their $6.000,000 investment?
Are we making any money on the deal? Please respond.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The City will share in 25% of the revenues after IPL is repaid the millions it is spending on utility improvements to install the charging stations all over town and after Blue Indy recoups 100% of its net cumulative investment, which it says exceeds $42 million. In reality, the City will recoup nothing because we have to reimburse ParkIndy for all of the parking revenues it will lose from the meter parking spaces it has lost because of Blue Indy, along with the taxes and fees the City is forgiving Blue Indy along the way.