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In December 2011 Paris started Autolib', an electric car sharing program. Working under the same principle as Vélib', users rent a car for a short time. Cars are rented from some 1,100+ rental stations in Paris and surrounding areas. Autolib' cars are normally rented for under an hour. Users must have a subscription and pay per half hour (prorated) based on length of subscription. For 2012 rates where:

  • Year: €144 - €5 per 30 minutes
  • Month: €30 - €6 per 30 minutes
  • Week: €15 - €7 per 30 minutes
  • Day: €10 - €7 per 30 minutes
  • 1-4 persons month sharing - €165 for 16 hours

Autolib' uses Bolloré Bluecar, a two door electric car with GPS and on-board computer. Car range is about 250 kilometers, 2-3 three hours driving time.

Autolib' subscriptions can be bought online (but only if you pay by bank transfer), at a subscription kiosk or at the Autolib' showroom - 5, rue Edouard VII. To subscribe you'll need an international or European driver's license, passport or national identity card and Visa, Mastercard or Carte Bleue. It's also a good idea to have a cell phone to be able to receive a SMS/text message confirmation when you return a car. A subscription at a kiosk takes about 15-20 minutes. Before subscribing you can create an account at the Autolib' website. This doesn't obligate you to anything but can speedup a kiosk subscription.

Once subscribed, you'll be issued an Autolib' card immediately. Cars can be rented at any station that has one available via the stations rental kiosk. Reservations can also be made at the Autolib' web site or through the Autolib' app - Android or iOS. But reservations can only be made at a station with an available car and the reservation is only held for 20 minutes. Meaning it's not possible to reserve a car more than 20 minutes in advance. Both the Autolib' website and app have maps showing real time availability of cars.

Renting a car is straightforward, you'll pass your Autolib' card in front of the scanner on a rental kiosk and then type your pin number. You can choose your pin number when you subscribe. Rental kiosks are in French or English. Once a car has been rented, the kiosk will display your car number. The charging post of your car will also blink. You will then unhook your car from it's charging post. You get access to your car by passing your Autolib' card in front of the sensor by the driver's door. You'll then find the car key inside hanging by the ignition. Once you start the car the on board computer and GPS turn on. The GPS has a database of all the Autolib' stations for travel between stations. As Paris has lots of small streets close together, it can take awhile to get the hang of using the GPS when driving!

When you drop off your car at a station. You'll need to hookup your car to a charging post. Make sure to scan your Autolib' card over the post's sensor. This will open it. Then take the charging cord and connect it to your car. When your rental has ended you will receive a SMS/text message confirmation. This will tell you how long you used the car for and what the cost was.

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