Paris is innovating again.

When Paris’ now famous bike share system Velib’ in 2007, it was a pioneer in the field. Now similar programs are popping up in major cities all over the world, and Paris is looking to break the mold again. This week the City launched Autolib’ – a car sharing system that works the same way…

In the past few years, Paris has taken major strides towards sustainability, promoting cycling and clean energy. And while the City agrees that sometimes you just need a car, private car ownership in the city isn’t necessary or reasonable. It has paired with Bolloré, the car company that built the 100% electric Bluecar that Autolib’ users will drive.

Autolib’ argues that not only is car sharing practical- providing a car when you need it, taking it back when you don’t- it will have a noticeable, positive effect on the environment. The program is starting with 3,000 Bluecars- enough to equal 22,500 privately owned vehicles, by their count.

How It Works

Autolib’ will work just like Velib’, and like most bike sharing systems. After signing up (you’ll need a driver’s license and a credit card, find an Autolib’ recharging station with available cars. Select your vehicle, unplug it, and take off. To return it, find a station with a free spot, and plug it in. Done.

As expected, a subscription will cost more than for a bike share, but the prices are still very reasonable. A year-long package costs 144€ ($190). The first half hour you drive is 5€, the next is 4€. There are short term subscriptions that are less cost-effective.

A Bright Future

For now, Autolib’ is in a two month testing period, which means that 60 cars will be available only to select users.

Hopefully, all will go well and Autolib’ will follow in the footsteps of Velib’, and one day residents of cities around the world will have reliable, affordable, and occasional access to a car with a small carbon footprint.