Autolib, the Parisian electric car sharing service, is not having the kind of start it had hoped for. Though the program officially kicked off in October, the rubber really hit the road in December and, since that time, 30 to 40 of the 250 Bolloré-built Bluecars in the fleet have had to be taken out of service. The problem stems from a combination of vandalism – something the city's bicycle-sharing program also experiences a lot of – and ordinary breakdowns of one sort or another.

The situation means that grabbing a car from one of the 300 stations is not a sure bet. The graphic to the right is a snapshot of availability taken recently, with the number of available electrics shown in the blue flag. As you can see, there are an awful lot of zeros.

The news is not all bad though. The service has had 6,000 people sign up, which is about double what organizers expected. Now, if they can get some more cars out there and keep them running, they might just experience some of the success car-sharing programs like Car2go and Zipcar are enjoying Stateside.

Hit the jump for a (French-language) news report of the problem as well as a bonus video (also in French) featuring an Autolib car getting a thorough review.

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