INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 2, 2015) - A parade of BlueIndy cars drove by as Mayor Greg Ballard cut the ribbon for a new car sharing service. The cars are available to rent despite controversy with the City-County Council and questions about the program's viability.
The City of Indianapolis rolled out 50 electric cars at 25 charging stations, located across the city. The service is in its initial stages with the ultimate goal of having 500 cars and 200 stations.
"It's there when you want it and when you need it," said Mayor Ballard.
The project was backed by French-based company, Bolloré Group, which operates car sharing services in Paris . BlueIndy is the company's first overseas project and Bolloré promises to invest more than $40 million. Last week the city's Board of Public Works approved $6 million in taxpayer dollars for the project.
"It will take years for us to make our investment back, probably 5, 6, 7 years but we are committed to Indianapolis for the long term we are investing here and we've got a 15 year contract with the city so we're here for the long haul," said Hervé Muller, BlueIndy President.
Mueller said the city will receive profit sharing once BlueIndy is in the black. Democratic councilors have argued the company should pay a franchise fee. Council members and company officials said they are currently discussing that possibility.
The cars are located across the city, from downtown to neighborhood destinations like Broad Ripple. The average trip is expected to last a mere 20 minutes. The cost to rent a car will vary based on membership. Annual subscribers will pay $9.99 per month. Members pay $4 for the first 20 minutes and will be charged 20 cents for every additional minute.
The program has been called innovative by some, ambitious by others. The company is trying to appeal to consumers in a Midwest city who rely heavily on their own cars. They're hoping to win over millennials, empty nesters and tourists.
"We don't expect it to fail," said Mayor Ballard. "Anyway Bolloré has got most of the risk in this obviously and they've got a great model that seems to work and so they're just bringing it to here and we're very lucky to be the North American entry point for this, that's a real coup for us you know I like to say Paris, London and Indy, I like saying that."
BlueIndy is offering several deals to build interest and gain customers. The membership fee will be waived for the first six months and its also offering free rides for up to an hour. More information about the service can be found at BlueIndy's website.