Parisian residents will soon have access to affordable electric cars throughout the French capital when a new vehicle-sharing scheme is launched in the autumn of 2011. The Autolib, or auto liberte, will emulate the city’s bike-renting scheme, the Velib. Parisians will be able to collect vehicles from stations around the city, use them for as long as is required and drop them off at another station.

The city’s deputy mayor, Anick Lepetit, said the new scheme would allow people living in Paris to give up car ownership completely. She estimated that to keep a vehicle in the capital for a year cost an average of $7,000 and that the new car-share scheme would be a great deal cheaper.

She added that she realised that it was necessary for many people to have access to a vehicle in the city and that the new scheme would deliver that access without the cost and without the need to find a parking space.

Although the Velib bicycle renting scheme had its teething problems, such as theft and vandalism, it has provided Parisians with an economical and convenient way of getting around. Officials claim that the new electric cars will be designed so that they are difficult to vandalise or steal.

Publisher of electric car magazine EV World, Bill Moore, says that he is in favour of the scheme and believes that if it is a success it could become a model for other cities around the world. He did however warn that electric cars need to be recharged and that the last thing anyone needed was dead cars in the middle of highways in the Paris suburbs waiting for a tow.