Automaker-operated car-sharing services haven't achieved much success, but that hasn't deterred Renault from launching one in Paris. Renault's Zity car-sharing service, which started in Madrid in 2017, will launch in the French capital in March.

Zity will make 500 Renault Zoe electric cars available to Parisians through a mobile app. Similar to other car-sharing services, drivers will be able to use the app to locate the nearest car, reserve it, and unlock it when they're ready to go.

Renault will not charge a subscription fee, so users will only pay for the use of cars. Rates will be charged per minute, and in fixed-time blocks of four hours, eight hours, and 24 hours. Users will also be able to purchase "economy packs" of prepaid time credit.

Battery packs in all cars will be monitored for charge to ensure users aren't left with depleted packs. If the charge falls below a "minimum level," the car will be taken out of service for recharging, Renault said.

Renault believes there is robust demand for car sharing in Paris. About 20% percent of Parisians use car sharing, the automaker said.

Indeed, Paris was previously home to Autolib, a car-sharing service that used its own dedicated vehicle—the Bolloré Bluecar electric hatchback.

Renault Zity car-sharing service

Renault Zity car-sharing service

While the fleet of Bluecars was rented as much as 5,000 times per week in 2012, it shut down in 2018. The same fate befell BlueIndy, a related enterprise that brought Bluecars to the streets of Indianapolis.

Car-sharing services backed by automakers haven't fared much better. In late 2019, BMW and Daimler withdrew their car-sharing services from North America (those services continue to operate in other markets), while General Motors significantly scaled back its Maven service.

But the attractiveness of car-sharing services stands as a new form of revenue for automakers, as well as a hedge against potential shrinking of the new-car market, so automakers will likely revisit the concept.

That will be even more likely if self-driving cars become mainstream. It's predicted that autonomous cars will be deployed primarily in shared fleets, rather than sold to individual car buyers.