Parisians Share Electric Cars

Hot on the trail of Paris' bicycle sharing scheme comes Autolib, a car-sharing idea that the city claims is a world first. Owning your own car, says the transport authority, is just so passé.

What's the Latest Development?

Paris has begun testing an electric car-sharing program designed to decrease automobile ownership in the French capital. Called Bluecars, city officials envision 5,000 of the little electric vehicle to be shuttling citizens around Paris by 2013. "Private cars are expensive and people are using them less and less in cities," said Annick Lepetit, in charge of transport at city hall. "We're moving into another culture, the culture of car sharing. It's the same principle as [the city's bicycle sharing program]: you use the car, leave it and that's it. Simple." 

What's the Big Idea?

While skeptical Parisians call the program a back-scratching scheme hatched by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his business friends, the official line—one which would perhaps be no less controversial in the U.S.—is that the program is meant to discourage private car ownership. Still, with over half the world's population already living in cities, and that number climbing, car ownership must be curbed if metropolitan areas are to resemble anything like pleasant living spaces. Will car-sharing catch on elsewhere just as Paris' bike-sharing program did? 

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