French billionaire Vincent Bollore will bring his electric car-sharing scheme to London in January 2016. This scheme branded BlueCity will start operations with 10 vehicles across Hammersmith and Fulham and later expand to up to 40 cars by mid-February.
Bollore aims to have a total of 100 such cars on London's roads. The billionaire, who also serves as the chairman of investment group Bolloré, will hope to reap the same success as the "Boris Bike" cycle hire network.
Bollore's Puteaux-headquartered conglomerate has committed to invest close to £100m (€137.7m, $150.2m) into the scheme, with no plans to earn profits directly. Instead, the company that has invested a lot of money in battery manufacturing, aims to promote the use of electric vehicles and establish charging infrastructure.
A spokesman added that BlueCity was currently ready and will enter customer trials from January. While detailed pricing is yet to be announced, it is understood that rates would be around £5 for a rental of half hour, according to The Telegraph.
The scheme has proven to be a hit in Paris where it has already started. The French capital has 3,600 such Bollore cars that Parisians can use by paying as they go.
In October, it was reported that London's iconic black cab will become electric in 2017, which is one year ahead of a new law that will demand all taxis or private-hire vehicles be "zero-emissions capable".
The London launch was delayed primarily for two reasons: Complications involved in securing the cooperation of various borough councils; and the need to repair the charging network of Source London, a project initiated to provide charging points for electric vehicles across the city.
Source London was originally a Transport for London-led consortium of public and private sector organisations. It was acquired by BluepointLondon, a company that is part of the Bollore conglomerate, with the aim of providing a well-organised network for emissions-free motoring.
However, the job of adding additional charging points got delayed amid arguments over pinning responsibility on maintenance. BluepointLondon has since shelled out more than £10m in reinstating and expanding the network to 1,000 charging points.