Autolib, which aims to provide around 3,000 electric cars that can be picked up and dropped off at a number of rental kiosks in Paris, was launched yesterday (Sunday, October 2).
The program is being spearheaded by Bolloré, IER and Microlise.
Bolloré is a major French corporation with diverse technology interests; one of these being the production of batteries, super capacitors and electric cars, consequently, Bolloré won the contract to supply the electric cars and kiosks on the Autolib project.
IER, a subsidiary of Bolloré, specialises in the delivery of solutions used to control the flow of goods and people, such as self-service ticketing, security solutions, RFID, supply chain management – including transport management solutions.
The primary role of IER in the Autolib project is to integrate a fleet management system for the electric vehicles.
The EV fleet will consist of Bolloré’s BlueCar, an electric car, which has been specifically manufactured for car sharing and was first unveiled at the 2005 Geneva motor show.
The bubble shaped four-seaters have been designed by Pininfarina and each car will be available to hire from between four to eight euros per hour or, for those motorists who subscribe to a membership, the fee will start from at 12 euros a month.
When using the Autolib service, a customer logs onto the Autolib web site and makes an online reservation using their credit card. In making the booking they confirm which kiosk they are picking the car up from, how long they want the car for and at which kiosk they will be dropping the car back off at.
When the time comes to use the service, the customer presents their credit card at the collection kiosk. The IER system then validates the booking and issues the driver with an RFID card which is unique to the driver.
At the same time, the IER system sends a message to Microlise MTU3 in the BlueCar. The MTU3 then tells the BlueCar to unlock the door when the expected RFID card is presented to the reader on the car door handle. The MTU3 also tells the BlueCar to allow the motor to be activated, thereby enabling the customer to drive the car.
The Microlise MTU3 then tracks the vehicle (via GPS and GPRS). If the vehicle strays outside of the allowed operating area, the Microlise system alerts a central controller as to the infringement who can then get in touch with the motorist. Similarly, the Microlise system monitors if the vehicle is being used in excess of the agreed rental period.
The Microlise system then confirms when the vehicle has been returned. Once the driver has plugged the car back into the kiosk to recharge the battery and has locked the doors that driver will be unable to drive that vehicle, but can still reopen the vehicle doors in order to retrieve personal items that may have been left in the vehicle.
The Microlise system also provides mileage and usage information to the IER system such that usage and charging cycle performance can be analysed.
Given the kind of driving information that the Microlise Telematics Unit can also provide, there is a long term vision to monitor and potentially charge customers for misuse.
Autolib will debut next week with 66 cars across 33 rental kiosks throughout Paris. The plan is to expand this to 1,000 kiosks and 3,000 vehicles by the end of 2012.