* Autolib break-even will not be for seven years -Bollore
* Scheme due to start autumn 2011
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By Helen Massy-Beresford
PARIS, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Billionaire tycoon Vincent Bollore (BOLL.PA) will invest over 100 million euros ($133 million) into Paris’s upcoming electric car hire scheme, known as “AutoLib”, he said on Friday.
Autolib, modelled on the popular Velib bike hire scheme, is due to start operation next autumn, and will allow drivers to rent electric cars by the half-hour from one of the 1,000 stations due to be put in place in Paris and its suburbs. [ID:nLDE6BF0U6]
“For us, Autolib is at least 100 million euros (of investment),” Bollore told a news conference after his holding company won the contract to supply cars for the new scheme. “We wrote 60 million (in the presentation), but 60 is the minimum.”
He reiterated the figure would certainly be 100 million, “plus investments we make elsewhere”.
Bollore is supplying bubble-shaped Bluecars, developed with its Italian partner Pininfarina (PNNI.MI), for Autolib.
Although the project is not expected to reach break-even for seven years, according to Bollore, he said the group’s shareholders would be patient.
Bollore’s group produces the lithium polymer metal batteries for the cars, which have an urban range of 250 kilometres and will take around four hours to charge.
The group is betting on lithium metal polymer technology because of its ability to resist heat and cold, while big car makers like Renault (RENA.PA) and Nissan (7201.T), which are investing billions of euros in electric vehicles, have plumped for lithium-ion batteries.
“The battery is not only 50 percent of the value of the car but 99 percent of the problems that come up,” Bollore said, citing safety issues, a need for a good range and the fact that a car battery had to be recharged thousands of times. (Editing by Will Waterman) ($1=.7513 Euro)