Havas’ Vincent Bollore launches electric cars hire scheme in Paris

We’ve already had Google developing driverless cars and now another big adland figure Vincent Bollore of Havas says he is pumping 100m euros into a scheme called Autolib to rent out electric cars to Parisians.

The ‘blue cars’ in question, which look quite neat, have been developed by Bollore’s eponymous industrial holding company in partnership with celebrated Italian auto designer Pininfarina.

Presumably they will join a gaggle of other electric cars, including offerings from General Motors and BMW, on the open car market next year.

Paris pioneered the bikes for hire schemes now so popular in capital cities, Barclays in London has done itself no end of good by allowing itself to be persuaded by London mayor Boris Johnson to sponsor the bikes for hire scheme and thereby become the only remotely popular group of bankers in town, if not the world.

Some London boroughs, including Harringey, already rent out small numbers of fuel-efficient cars to residents.

But Bollore’s venture sounds much bigger.

But we shouldn’t think of Vincent as an adman. The Bollore company invests in all sorts of things including Havas and media buyers Aegis, in which it’s the biggest shareholder but not the controller, to Bollore’s lasting chagrin.

And running a big agency group in France makes you a rather bigger part of the warp and weft of national commercial life than it does in the UK or even the US. Havas used to own Agence France-Presse, which is very important to the French, from president Nicolas Sarkozy down.

Will Bollore’s auto ambitions mean he takes his eye of the Havas marcoms ball?

Probably not but the car business is all-consuming.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.