As of yesterday, licensed drivers in Nice can now get around with pay-per-use electric cars, dubbed Auto Bleue and decorated with wings. One of the stations is near my apartment; all of us in the area are delighted by the concept. Currently, it costs (“les tarifs” on the website) 25 euros to sign up, for which you have to provide a scan of both your driver’s license and a second form of valid ID, then:
– 8 euros for one hour
– 20 euros for four hours in the morning (if you first take the car between 7am and 9am)
– 20 euros for five hours in the evening (if you first take the car between 7pm and 9pm)
– 50 euros for a full day (if you first take the car between 7am and 9am)
– or, for 50 euros a month, you can use the service for a total of ten hours in the month, beyond which it’s 5 euros an hour. (You have to sign up for a minimum of 6 months for this offer.)
The price includes the electricity, mileage, insurance, and round-the-clock assistance from the car – they come with a GPS – or by telephone. Beyond that, you also save on in-city parking, since you can hook it up at any of the 14 stations in Nice, as well as at a station in Cagnes-sur-Mer and another in Saint Laurent du Var. The drawback being, of course, that you do have to return it to a station, so if you wanted to use one for a daily commute, it would only be practical if you worked near one of the spots. New stations will likely be added, as they’ve done for the Vélo Bleu (pay-per-use bicycles). The Auto Bleue website also points out that “Le coût total moyen d’une voiture particulière est de 5360€/an, pour une petite voiture à essence. (source ADEME.)” Translation: “The average total cost of a personal car is 5360 euros per year, for a small gas-powered car.”
That total cost of ownership, along with parking headaches and crazy Riviera drivers, are why I don’t have a car. I take the bus, tram and train everywhere, for a total monthly cost of 25-35 euros. That’s 15 euros/month for the bus I take to work, plus 10-20 euros/month for city tram and bus usage. It’s hard to be convinced to shell out 5360 euros/year when I only spend 420 euros maximum (35 euros x 12 months) to go practically everywhere I need and want, plus I never have to worry about repairs, accidents, insurance, parking, registration, or gas stations! Indeed, I’ve become so accustomed to getting around by public transportation and my own two feet, whether walking or bicycling, that I can’t yet think of a personal use for these new electric cars, other than taking home large purchases. But I live alone; I can definitely see how practical the Auto Bleue will be for families and even couples, as well as business people who come to the Riviera often enough that it could replace a more-expensive rental car.