Businessweek has an interesting write up over a French plan for an electric car rental service for the beautiful city of Paris: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/aug2009/gb2009087_330677.htm While the system is still being designed with 2000 electric cars initially available for pick up and drop off at various points around the city of Paris and with an equal number available in the suburbs, the project could be expected to become an example for other countries. French approaches to transportation and to the use of energy reflect that country's extremely poor fossil fuel reserves - France has virtually none. That is why the country uses nuclear power in a big way, has been working on renewable Energy since the 1970s, and, that is also why it has developed, arguably, some of the best systems of public transportation in the world especially in its ultra-high speed railways. As visitors here are aware, I pay a lot of heed to business magazines and their pieces on environment-friendly projects because these guys look at the economic viability of these projects first. They have little room for emotion in looking at these projects, a good counterbalance, if you ask me, to the environmental idealists of the world.
So where would this be of use to South Asians? I think a similar project using electric scooters would be a very interesting idea if someone attempts it. There are several manufacturers of electric scooters in India now, and some of the big names in manufacturing conventional motorcycles and scooters like Hero Motors are also joining this field as we talk. If the technology and methods used by the French to rent electric cars are modified to allow the renting of electric scooters for a reasonable price in South Asia, I do think that this would give the autorickshaw / tuk-tuk sector and the taxi sector good competition, reduce the use of gasoline, and of the filth that pollutes the air in that part of the world every single second.
I have found some websites of Indian electric scooter manufacturers - I have no idea how good their products are as I do not have any experience with them - but I am hoping that some of the visitors to this blog from India would respond with their views in case they have any experience with any of these:
1. YO Bikes http://www.yobykes.in/
2. Ultra Motors India: http://www.ultramotor.com/in (I understand the Ultra group has some kind of tie up with Hero Motors in India though I have no idea how this works)
3. Eko Vehicles http://ekovehicle.com/
4. Vijaya Electric Scooters http://www.vvelectricscooters.com/
There are posts on the net about TVS and other Indian electric scooters but these companies don't seem to have enough confidence in their own products to as much as talk about them on their websites. Oh well, they have had their day in the sun - maybe it is time for new people to succeed now! In any case, if visitors here have any information about other manufacturers of electric two wheelers in India, I would love to hear from you.
Of course, if you want to get the latest information on the finest electric motorcycles available anywhere in the world, sign up at the Electric Motorcycle Forum: http://electricmotorcycleforum.com/ You won't find a better place to hang out, I can assure you!