Indianapolis is finally getting its own electric-car sharing service, a couple of years after the idea was first proposed for the Midwestern city.
Previewed last year, the BlueIndy service opens for customers today, using French-made Bolloré BlueCars.
There will be 25 locations throughout the city initially, with most hosting five cars each.
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In addition, a station at the Indianapolis International Airport will host 20 cars, in the same parking garage used for traditional rental cars, according to the Indianapolis Star.
This represents the first stage in a plan to eventually build out a network of 200 charging and parking sites, and place 500 BlueCars on the streets of Indianapolis.
The airport site is expected to compete not only with traditional car services and rentals, but also ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber.
BlueIndy Bolloré BlueCar
Drivers with a $120 annual BlueIndy membership will pay $4 for every 20 minutes of use, while the airport will assess a $6 fee for cars picked up there.
That means drives to and from downtown should be significantly cheaper than taking a taxi, assuming there is no traffic, of course.
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BlueIndy service will commence after a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Cedric Bolloré--representing BlueIndy parent Bolloré Group--and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
Ballard has lobbied extensively for the BlueIndy service, which has had its share of controversy.
As Level 2 charging stations began to be installed--in groups of five--at locations downtown recently, business owners began complaining that the sites would eat up valuable parking spaces.
BlueIndy Bolloré BlueCar
Members of the majority-Democratic City Council seized on the conflict to more broadly criticize Republican Ballard's handling of the program, claiming public parking spaces shouldn't be reserved for the privately-owned BlueIndy service.
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Bolloré Group invested $41 million in BlueIndy, which is modeled on car-sharing services it operates in Europe. The Indianapolis city government contributed $6 million.
But perhaps a bigger challenge than politics will be getting citizens of the American Heartland to warm up to tiny electric cars designed for European cities.
Now that BlueIndy is officially open for business, it's time to find out whether this electric-car sharing concept can adapt.