London-based electric car-sharing service Bluecity is to scrap its operations next week.
It is a setback for car-sharing in the capital and Bluecity – which is owned by French infrastructure giant Bollore, which also operates the Source London network of EV charging points – is the second major car-sharing firm to axe operations in London, following DriveNow’s announcement of a withdrawal by the end of this month.
Bluecity is set to end its operations by 10 February.
Like DriveNow, Bluecity blamed a lack of demand and high costs of operation for its exit, although Bollore said it would still continue to run its network of public electric vehicle charging points.
Both services offered point-to-point journeys for drivers, however, vehicles could only be picked up and parked in boroughs that signed-up the car-sharing clubs. One of the major problems car-sharing firms have faced in the capital is getting all 33 London boroughs onboard, as each individual council has to approve specific requests from companies to operate, which is seen by many within the industry to be a time-consuming and bureaucratic process.
“Our mission has always been to deliver a smart and sustainable EV infrastructure whilst encouraging EV uptake across London. Due to the limited size of the network and the competitive environment, we have taken the difficult decision to close the Bluecity car sharing service. We remain fully committed to supporting the London’s wider efforts to become the world’s leading low-carbon and electrically mobile city via the expansion of Source London, London’s leading charge point provider,” a Bollore spokesman said. “We have been operating Source London network since September 2014, having successfully spearheaded its expansion, now with 1,200 smart charge points available on-street across two thirds of London’s Boroughs, with an availability rate of 98%.”
Bluecity also operates car-sharing services to and from Gatwick Airport, although it is not clear at this stage whether or not these will remain in place beyond 10 February.
“This is a major step back for moving to electric vehicles in London. The Mayor and London Boroughs must step up their game in order to allow electric car sharing schemes to flourish and reduce car ownership in the capital,” Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member and a member of the Assembly’s Transport Committe member told Company Car Today.
City Hall declined to comment when approached by Company Car Today.