A new electric car club, Bluecity, has launched today in Hammersmith & Fulham, London. Bluecity is a new arm in the global-reaching Bolloré empire and hopes to take London by storm.
Following Bolloré’s winning tender for Source London in 2014, the company has been busy working hard with the various boroughs of London to accommodate their Paris-style car sharing scheme, which in Paris today sees half a million rentals every month of its 4,000 strong electric vehicle club with 6,000 charge points around the capital city. Following the successes in Paris, Bolloré has expanded beyond Paris to other French cities and is beginning to make their mark on a global scale including Indianapolis with BlueIndy, Los Angeles with BlueLA and the soon to launch BlueSG in Singapore to name but a few.
In London, however, things are moving a little slower. The size of the capital and its different Boroughs have made it much more of a logistical challenge to launch a new car sharing network, but Hammersmith & Fulham have been not only quick to deal with but actively aided the rollout of Bluecity, by installing 100 charge points.
Speaking to H&F Councillor Stephen Cowan, he said, “We currently have 100 electric car charging bays and that’s more than any other council in the country. When you consider what a small land mass Hammersmith & Fulham is, I’m proud that’s quite a feat. If you sign up, Bluecity has kindly agreed to waive the sign up fee for those people who live and work in the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.”
In addition, there are plans to expand the network in H&F to 250 charging points by Christmas 2017. Interestingly, some of these will be lamp-post charging points that are yet to make their mark on electric car infrastructure.
Cedric Bolloré added, “Cleaning the air is not something new to us. We’ve been working for 25-years on that subject and spent an enormous amount of effort to develop batteries, cars and the most advanced car-sharing service in the world. We’re extremely grateful to Stephen Cowan who has helped us as much as he could to facilitate the system in Hammersmith & Fulham.”
“Clean the air and reduce traffic jams. This is what we’re doing in other cities and what we think we can do in London. We’re going to launch strong in London and in every Borough that really wants it. It works very well in Indianapolis and Paris and it works because its simple.”
Merton and Hounslow are next on the agenda and residents there can claim 12-months free membership and 10-hours free driving using the code EARLYBIRD10 on the Bluecity website: www.bluecity.co.uk. Residents in Hammersmith & Fulham, however, can benefit from 12-months free membership and 20-hours of free driving by subscribing using the code EARLYBIRD
Source London already covers 18 London Boroughs and Bluecity cars are able to operate them.
Bluecity will cost £5/month membership plus 17 pence per minute. On paper, this may sound expensive when you consider an hour’s journey will cost just over £10. However, this includes insurance, tax and of course parking too. Therefore, it is a real and viable alternative to car ownership for residents. Aside from the diminutive city-style car built by Bolloré to a Pininfarina design, if demand warrants it, there may be a small van (also built by Bolloré) and a convertible (built by Citroen) joining the charge point ranks.
To drive, the car is responsive and simple to operate – just like most electric cars. The learning process is kept to a minimum. Clever design details mean the controls are large, ugly but functional. It’s clearly a low-production car, but it’s built to last and the Paris cars are testament to this as most have parking ‘dings’ and ‘donks’ on their aluminium body work and they wear the city well. In Paris, they’re fast becoming as symbolic as the black cab is in London.
Inside, there’s room for four plus a boot but not much more. It’s not a big car, but it’s a practical size for zipping in and out of traffic. Helping make life easy is a touchscreen that can find “kiosks” to charge at and it shows a live status of their operation and availability. In addition, cars can be reserved 30-minutes in advance and once in the car, charging points can be reserved for 90 minutes, which is helpful for anyone who has a specific journey they need to make. Unfortunately, Bluecity suggest members keep within the M25 ring, despite the car’s 150-mile range. Bluecity’s cars can, however, be charged at any charge point with a Type-1 tethered cable, as the cars do not come with one.
Stephen Cowan added, “We’ve removed the parking fee for anyone who has an electric car. That’s for anyone who drives into the borough with an electric car. At the moment, you have to pay a small fee for charging, but we’re looking at some charging bays where we can do it for free. We came into office three years ago and very quickly said that we wanted to offer electric car charging bays. The officers found Bluecity who couldn’t get anyone to take them up. They’re a business, but my goal is how do we clean the air? How do we get clean transport?”
We’ve got the biggest increase in cycle lanes in 40-years going on and we’d like to put more Santander bikes in too. And we see all of that as public transport. We’re nudging people into a new lifestyle choice and it could make a massive impact. We don’t have the numbers yet, but we’re collating them. But it makes sense. If people have less diesel and petrol cars, it’s bound to make a big diffrence.”
The launch coincided with Hammersmith & Fulham’s ‘Eco Fair’ where the council showed some of their greener projects, including stopping to use a type of pesticide on weeds that causes harm to bees.
Edit 26 June 2017: Stephen Cowan quote, “Source London has kindly agreed to waive the sign up fee…” changed to, “Bluecity has kindly agreed to waive the sign up fee…” for story accuracy. Corrected information concerning residents of Merton and Hounslow receiving 10-hours free driving, not 20 as previously reported.