Paris prepares to prove it’s an electric vehicle leader

Attendees discuss at last year's eCarTec Paris exhibition. — CarTec picAttendees discuss at last year's eCarTec Paris exhibition. — CarTec picPARIS, April 4 — As an electric vehicle show opens in Paris this week, the French capital is looking more eco-friendly than ever when it comes to the roads.

The awkwardly-named ECarTec, held in Munich for the past three years, opens for the first time at Paris’s enormous Porte de Versailles this week, a sister show designed to show the unbeatable partnership between France and Germany when it comes to electric cars.

If appearances are anything to go by, Paris may even be a little further ahead, with Renault already marketing several electric vehicles under its Z.E. brand, while German names such as Volkswagen and Daimler are treading more carefully in the electric vehicle sphere.

Attendees at this week’s events will almost certainly see many more electric vehicles on the roads of Paris than they would in Munich, thanks to the ambition of the city’s mayor, Bertrand Delanoe.

Wander around the streets of the French capital nowadays and you can’t fail to miss the electric car charging stations that have been dotted about, or the stylish Pininfarina-designed electric cars often plugged into them.

The city’s electric car sharing service, Autolib, aims to do for electric cars what the beloved Velib system did for the bike — make it accessible, simple and cheap.

It’s an idea that has had its fair share of detractors, although the most recent figures released last month suggest that just over 2,800 annual subscriptions have been purchased so far — not a bad figure considering it only launched in December 2011.

Alongside the rented cars are new electric bus routes which launched last year to join the famous electric Montmartrobus, as well as new electric mail vans for la Poste later this year — that’s a lot of electric mobility for a fairly small place, and it’s before one even begins to count the electric scooters and e-bikes which zip around the city.

So it’s really no wonder that France considers itself a world leader in electric cars, a claim backed up by EV sales last year, which came in at 2,629, more than the combined sum of the UK, Spain and Italy.

The only country that came close to beating France in Europe was Germany, where 2,154 electric cars were sold — a figure that will no doubt be remembered when eCarTec returns to Munich this Fall (October 23-25). — AFP/Relaxnews



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