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Paris set for electric car-sharing

Paris is gearing up for an electric car-sharing scheme to fight air pollution across the city.

Officials have chosen a bid by French billionaire entrepreneur Vincent Bollore to run Autolib', a new car-sharing programme modelled on Paris' successful, three-year-old bicycle-sharing programme, Velib'.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said the 3,000-car service - which is to begin in the city and nearby suburbs by the end of 2011 - will make Paris the first major world city with a car-sharing programme of its size.

Delanoe called the plan "a revolution in efficiency that will improve our quality of life".

Groupe Bollore, an industrial conglomerate, beat two rival bidders after a year-long selection process: a consortium of rental car giant Avis, Paris public transport authority RATP, national rail operator SNCF and Vinci Park, an operator of parking garages; and Veolia Transport Urbain - an international operator of public transport systems.

The four-seat "Bluecars" - so called for their colour - developed by Bollore are to be positioned at 1,200 stations in metropolitan Paris and will be available around the clock. Users must have a valid driver's licence and pay a subscription fee to borrow one of the vehicles.

Italian car designer Pininfarina worked with Bollore to develop the cars.

Tourists will be able to use the service as long as they have a driver's licence recognised in France.

An annual subscription will cost 12 euro (£10.40) per month, but daily and weekly options will also be available. A 250 euro (£218) security deposit will also be required. The cars can be reserved in advance and returned to any station.

A test phase is scheduled for August and September, before the official start-up in October.

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