How EV carsharing is changing one American city

More than 1,000 people have joined Blueindy since September launch.

  • Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL
In the first three months of operation, Indianapolis' BlueIndy all-electric carsharing program has attracted about 1,000 members who took 7,000 rides. BlueIndy now has 120 vehicles made by French company Bollore Group and may eventually swell to 500 vehicles. The math differs depending on who you talk to, but because the people who use these cars are not driving their own vehicles, some say a fleet of 500 BlueIndy cars would take 5,500 other vehicles off the city's roads. Permanently. And at least one Indianapolis user is pretty satisfied with the project so far.

Gary Reiter, in a post on urban sustainability communications platform Meeting of the Minds, says he and his wife are BlueIndy members and have given up the use of their two automobiles. He commutes via a combination of bike-sharing, walking, public transportation, Uber and Lyft, and says he primarily uses BlueIndy to either get to work when the weather's bad or go to special events. Most importantly, his " personal quality of life has improved immensely with transportation options."

BlueIndy annual members pay $9.99 per month, and when they use the cars, they pay $4 for the first 20 minutes, and 20 cents a minute after that (there's also the option of a free single-day membership, in which those usage rates double). And according to an AAA study, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle that's driven 15,000 miles a year is about $8,700, meaning that a two-car family could save upwards towards $15,000 or so a year by ditching their cars in favor of BlueIndy and other transportation methods. Reiter figures that BlueIndy could save its members a collective $24 million a year, even when factoring in what these people will have to pay for all of their transportation services.

BlueIndy launched last September amid questions about how the city may have green-lit its $6-million portion of the project's expenses (i.e. the charging infrastructure) without properly getting competitive bids as well as complaints that charging stations were taking up valuable parking spaces around town. But Reiter indicates that the 1,000 members constitute an early success for the program.

Electric chartering has expanded with mixed results. Daimler's Car2go gas been steadily expanding throughout both the US and the world with its Smart ForTwo ED electric-vehicle two-seaters, notably entering New York City last summer. Then again, BMW's DriveNow carsharing program with its i3 EVs shut down last November, with the culprit being the lack of available parking spaces around the city.

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BlueIndy Car Sharing in Indianapolis Ride Along | Autoblog

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