November 23, 2015

BlueIndy 'Really Popular' Through Three Months As Legal Fights Continue

A BlueIndy charging station in downtown Indianapolis. (File photo) - Ryan Delaney/WFYI

A BlueIndy charging station in downtown Indianapolis. (File photo)

Ryan Delaney/WFYI

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis lawmakers’ threat to tow the BlueIndy electric rental cars in a show of protest is on hold for another few weeks. Meanwhile, BlueIndy says its launch is going well.

Representatives for the Indianapolis City-County Council continue to talk with management at BlueIndy over getting the car-sharing service to enter into a franchise agreement with the city. That would require the French-owned company, Bolloré, to pay an annual fee to operate in Indy.

That's something Ballore and BlueIndy are willing to do, said Bart Brown, the council's financial analyst.

"We are still negotiating," he said at a committee meeting. "We think we kind of know what we want to all agree upon. It’s based basically on research we have done on what other cities are charging for similar type of fees."

Brown says other cities they've looked at that have similar services collect fees.

The council voted in September to tow BlueIndy cars downtown if the contract wasn’t renegotiated within 60 days. But that’s on hold while a separate lawsuit is worked out. Last month the Marion County auditor sued the city over its $6 million startup investment for BlueIndy.

Meanwhile, BlueIndy reports it now has 800 members and its small electric cars have been driven more than 4,000 times since it launched in early September. They say that’s the best launch out of the four cities it’s operating in.

Indy is the fourth city and first in North America for the Parisian Bolloré. BlueIndy general manager Scott Prince reports 800 people have signed up as members since the September launch. And 4,000 people have driven the two-door all electric cars.

"That’s really good," he told councilors. "It’s really taking hold and it’s been really popular."

Prince says they expect membership to pass 1,000 by the end of the year as the number of charging station locations rises to 72. Prince anticipates a spike in membership when locations at the airport and on college campuses come online.

Business owners who have had charging stations -- a figure expected to eventually rise to 200 -- remain mixed on the benefits of the service.

Contact Ryan: 317.489.4491 | | @rpatrickdelaney 

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