The car rental industry in Paris is presenting a legal challenge against a city plan to provide cheap, "help yourself" electric cars for residents and tourists, according to The Independent.
The Autolib electric cars are based on the city's successful bicycle self-hire operation, and that operation inspired a similar program in London. But a group representing large car-rental firms such as Avis and Hertz says the city is organizing unfair and publicly subsidized competition. An administrative tribunal, which hears complaints against public authorities, is set to decide soon whether to eliminate the program.
The program was set up to offer a "green," cheap alternative for cross-town journeys.
The Autolib cars feature a battery life of 250 kilometers. For a specific fee, the small, blue four-seater cars will be available from street or underground docking stations for the first half-hour for Parisian residents and a higher price for visitors. Long-term rentals will be more expensive.
Customers will use a credit card to pick up a car from a docking station and leave it in a spare place at any other station when finished. Each car will have a radio, a GPS route-finding system and an onboard computer to direct the driver to empty docking spaces.