From The Guardian, Wednesday 25th February 2009:
Boris Johnson could introduce London electric car hire scheme - Hélène Mulholland
Boris Johnson is considering the introduction of an electric car hire scheme in London as part of his attempts to make it the "electric capital of Europe".
The London mayor today told the London assembly that the working group he has set up to look at electric vehicles was considering the autolib scheme being planned for Paris for 2010.
The plan is based on the French capital's Velib bike hire scheme, which is already in place, and will see cars available for hire from bays around Paris.
Asked whether he would consider a similar scheme, Johnson confirmed his working group was already examining it.
The mayor – who has already set plans for a bike hire version of the scheme for London in motion – said he wanted the city to spearhead the revolution in electric cars.
He told the London assembly his environment chief was already "on the case", and that the issue was also being considered by the electric vehicle working group.
"I think this [electric vehicle technology] is something we should be really leading on," he said.
"I think we should be making London the electric capital of Europe, and that's why we are going to be greatly expanding our support for charging points around London.
"We have been talking to manufacturers about the possibility about switching to, or indeed creating, electric vehicles in this city."
Johnson said he was hoping to to persuade the transport secretary, Geoff Hoon, to give London at least a "sizeable chunk" of the £250m government money put in place to support electric initiatives.
Johnson said he wanted to see at least half the 8,000 vehicle fleet owned by the Greater London Authority replaced by electric vehicles as soon as possible.
However, he warned that considerable sums were necessary in order to invest in a technology that is "almost there ... but not quite".
"I want to see real progress towards us identifying London as the electric capital by June, but we have to be clear this is something we can't do without government assistance and we have to do it jointly with central government, " he said.
"It would be very sad if central government decided London wasn't suitable or wasn't the prime area for support."
While backing electric cars to reduce emissions, Johnson defended his decision, announced earlier this month, to drop the third phase of London's low emission zone, which would have penalised the highest polluting vans entering London through a £100 daily charge.
The Conservative mayor said it was "not right" to ask van drivers to spend £2,000 on making their vehicles compliant or £15,000 on replacing them with fuel efficient engines during a recession because the costs involved could tip many small businesses into closure.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009