Motorists will have access to a fleet of 3,000 electric cars to rent in London from next year as part of a project announced last week (June 12) by French-owned firm BluePointLondon Ltd in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL).
On Friday BluePointLondon, which has operated the Source London scheme and its network of electric vehicle charge points since September 2014 under a contract from TfL, presented the electric cars it intends to launch early next year, although an exact date for the launch is yet to be announced.
It means that Londoners who become members of the Source London scheme â€“ the current cost for new members being Â£5 â€“ will be able to rent electric vehicles on top of gaining access to the existing network of 1,400 EV charge points across 27 London boroughs and 39 private partners.
460 of the existing charge points are run in conjunction with London boroughs and the remainder with private firms.
Source London has more than 4,000 members, but, under the current scheme members must already own an electric vehicle to join. Members are able to reserve a charge point online or via their phone.
The scheme was first launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in 2011 to encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles, before BluePointLondon (BPL) took over operation of the scheme last year.
And, by 2018, Source London aims to have increased the number of charge points from 1,400 to 6,000, with BPL also maintaining and modernising much of the existing network.
But while BPL now operates the Source London scheme, it has only finalised agreements with a handful of London boroughs and private firms for the actual maintenance and upgrading of charge points themselves.
However, by the end of 2015, BPL says 500 charge points will be retrofitted or newly installed, with repairs carried out gradually as more private and public partners transfer responsibility for maintenance to BPL.
A spokeswoman for BPL said: â€œBluePointLondon has the expertise, investment capability and drive to deliver an improved EV charging infrastructure via Source London and support London in becoming the EV capital of Europe.â€
And, as part of this drive, agreements to make BPL responsible for the maintenance and management of charge points in the boroughs of Sutton, Southwark, Greenwich, Hackney and Kensington and Chelsea have been agreed in recent months.
BPL said the agreements will see a mobile maintenance team deployed to â€œensure the charge points are fully functional and compliant with EU standards as well as overseeing any necessary repairs for the benefit of the growing number of EV users in Londonâ€.
According to BPL, network repairs and replacements have been necessary â€˜due to the ageing state of the networkâ€™, with the most recent audit revealing that 80% of the charge points are now available compared to 60% a year ago.
In due course, other boroughs are set to make similar agreements with BPL and, in consultation with local authorities, new charge points will supplement the network to â€œensure greater coverage and availabilityâ€.
Christophe Arnaud, director of BluepointLondon, said: â€œThis agreement is a key step in providing all Londoners with a sustainable alternative to traditional transport means. A better maintained and more extensive charging infrastructure will mean more drivers are able to use electric vehicles and join the early-adopters who are already helping London reach lower emissions level. We are very excited to be playing our part.â€
Southwark councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: â€œWith better maintenance, we want more people to switch from petrol and diesel to electric cars. This will help reduce harmful emissions and improve air quality not just in Southwark but across the capital. Over 120 people die prematurely each year in our borough due to air pollution and we must do all we can to eliminate this silent killer.â€
Last weekâ€™s announcement coincided with the inauguration of BPL parent company BollorÃ© Groupâ€™s new UK headquarters on Cavendish Square in London, where the Group will oversee its operations in advertising, marketing, sustainable transport and electric vehicles.
The Group claims to be one of the 500 largest companies in the world, and its wide range of investment holdings includes Vivendi, which comprises the recorded music firm Universal Music Group, ticketing provider See Tickets and international feature film company Studiocanal.
Investment holdings also include electric energy storage company BlueSolutions â€“ the parent firm of BluePointLondon â€“ which manages more than 15,000 charge points in different cities in France and the United States, including Paris where it operates the Autolib electric car rental scheme.