Backed by French industrialist Vincent Bollore, who invested 1.5 billion Euros in the project, Autolib was started 15 years ago when the Paris City Council sought proposals for a fleet of zero-emission vehicles that could be rented for short jaunts.
The tiny electric cars, which run on polymer metal lithium batteries developed in Brittany, made their debut in 2011, and thousands of Parisian subscribers now zip around town in them. Something similar may soon be coming to a city near you: CEO Morald Chibout says Autolib has gotten a flood of inquiries and is now consulting with officials from around the world eager to start car-sharing services of their own.
The scrap heap is piled high with lousy cars. But a few famous flops deserve a little reconsideration.