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Grant Gerke writes about manufacturing, factory and plant automation, packaging, electric cars and renewables for business and consumer media sites.

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Solving Transportation Challenges with Electric Car Ride Sharing

Sturdy BlueIndy electric cars emerged last fall in Indianapolis, led by Mayor Greg Ballard

I find car sharing interesting since it's a new way to invest in public infrastructure or effectively solve public transit issues with less investment from government entities. One recent example of a public/private venture is the electric car ride sharing program in Indianapolis, called BlueIndy, and it's run by the French industrial energy conglomerate, Bollore group.

According to a Sept. 2015 article in AutoNews, Bollore's BlueIndy program eliminates many vehicle ownership issues including insurance, maintenance, 24/7 roadside assistance, GPS and parking searches. Bollore Group is investing $41 million to set up and implement the service on a 15-year contract. 

The program provides members the ability to pick up cars within the greater Indianapolis area and then drive to a destination, park and plug-in the vehicle.

Here's an early adopter's take on the program from Sept 2015:

"I'm thrilled not to have the car payment, the insurance, the oil changes, the fill-ups," says Cassie Stockamp, who commutes less than five miles daily from her home in the hip SoBro neighborhood north of central Indianapolis to her job downtown. The nearest Blue-Indy cars are just a few blocks from her house. "We don't have a great mass transit system. That [BlueIndy] was the final piece I needed to sell my car. I really do care about my carbon footprint. That's my biggest motive."

The last line about a carbon footprint is big, my guess Stockamp is a millennial. Of course, first time salaries aren't what they used to be in the disruption economy. 

Greg Ballard, Mayor of IndianapolisThe program was created by the Mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard, and I'm not sure how much the city receives in revenue but that's not the point. As part of the program, the city receives cars and has an infrastructure roadmap to handle challenges for a dense, midwestern city. In the big picture, this benefit attracts more young folks to the city and makes more urban life more economical. Practical governing, what concept! 


BMW Rideshare Pilot

On the other side of the coin, BMW launched a car sharing program with its i3 electric car in Seattle this last weekend. The program is called DriveNow and the city of Seattle has issued 63 carsharing permits to BMW. There aren't as many details on this car sharing program, but according to a recent CleanTechnica article, one can infer that ride sharing is a high priority for BMW i3.

BMW remains dedicated to solving the many transportation challenges faced by major cities -- and interested in mobility services such as car sharing,” a spokeswoman said via email. “We are currently exploring the potential to work with a number of U.S. cities who are welcoming car sharing in their communities and offering the parking permits necessary to operate one-way flexible car sharing.

BMW tried to roll this progam out in San Francisco. However, car parking permits stifled the plan and the German-based company moved to Seattle.

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