Indianapolis to become city with largest electric car share program in U.S.

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A European company announced plans in Indianapolis Monday to invest $35 million to build the largest electric car share program in the country.

The program will launch next spring, giving residents and tourists another transportation option. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard welcomed the company to the Circle City, saying electric cars are here to stay.

“The obstacles right now are peoples’ perceptions. They used to think these were toy, box cars, but in the last three or four years, this has changed dramatically,” Ballard said.

The company, Bollore, will purchase 500 electric cars. Two listed options are the Nissan Leaf and the electric Ford Focus.

Bollore called the program “convenient, affordable, available and reliable,” saying a similar, larger program has seen great success in Paris. There, memberships cost $16 a month, and a 20-minute trip costs $4.50.

‪”Of course, we’re targeting certain neighborhoods like Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, Mass Ave. and downtown,” said ‬P‪aul Mitchell, president and CEO of Energy Systems Network, the company that approached the city on Bollore’s behalf.

The plan is a dense network of 1,200 charging stations at 200 locations. Members can reserve a car online or at a kiosk. They’ll slide a card—much like a credit card—to unlock the device.

An in-car GPS system allows members to reserve a parking spot with a charging station near their destination. The cars can even recognize preferred radio station channels.

Ballard said the ability to drop the car at a number of locations was a selling point. Similar programs require members to return the cars to their original parking space.

“We’re building a book, a ‘how to,’ if you will, for other cities and states on how to do this,” said Ballard, who called the program “step two” in the city’s alternative fuels strategy.

The mayor signed an executive order requiring that almost every new car and truck purchased or leased for the city’s fleet have an electric or plug-in hybrid engine. His goal is to have a fleet that relies on alternative fuel technologies by 2025.

Private businesses will also be able to set up corporate accounts as will government agencies. Electric car owners have the option to pay a fee to use the company’s charging stations.

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