Build a strong public-private partnership to bring electric mobility to more people.
Lessons learned from BlueIndy, an electric car sharing service.
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United States

Lessons Learned from BlueIndy: An EV Shared-Use Mobility Case Study


BlueIndy, launched in Indianapolis in September 2015, is the largest electric car sharing service in the United States. The BlueIndy service aims to provide its users with convenient access to an environmentally-friendly car that is less expensive than owning a vehicle. As of September 2016, BlueIndy had 240 vehicles with 80 charging stations, with a long-term goal of 500 vehicles and 200 charging stations. BlueIndy reported that it has 2,800 members with 32,000 rides in its first year of service.

BlueIndy is the result of a public-private partnership between the City of Indianapolis, the local electric utility Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), and the Bolloré Group. The Bolloré Group is a French company that promotes electric mobility via electric vehicles, carsharing, and integrated transportation solutions. The program was championed by former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Lessons Learned

The report presents a case study of BlueIndy’s an electric car sharing service implemented through a public-private partnership. It describes the following lessons learned regarding how government and the private sector can work together to expand electric mobility access:

  • Build a strong public-private partnership to bring electric mobility to more people. The program was championed by Mayor Ballard whose team pulled together the key partners for vehicles and charging infrastructure with the backing of the city's chief executive. The local electric utility (IPL) helped lead the way on infrastructure to expand its electricity retail market while Bolloré provided the vehicles to expand the market for its EV technologies and car sharing services. Advocates say the program benefits the public by reducing the environmental impacts of transportation and the cost of mobility for users. With that strong support, the private entity overcame early public funding setbacks and committed a sizeable private investment to get the program off the ground.
  • Start with the urban core and expanding outward. BlueIndy began operating in the urban core to demonstrate to city dwellers and visitors that an EV carshare program was a viable transportation option. The BlueIndy program gained traction in its first year by successfully attracting members and continuing to push forward to deploy additional stations.
  • Articulate the value proposition of EVs, especially the benefits of transportation electrification to ratepayers to attain broad public support. In April 2014, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission denied BlueIndy and IPL funding for $12.3 million installation of charging stations and kiosks for BlueIndy, approving only a $3.7 million investment in upgrades to distribution infrastructure. A study on the potential benefits of EV adoption through higher utilization of existing assets could have helped make the case for more public investment.
  • Strive to attain broad support from a broad base of local public officials before launch. BlueIndy was closely identified with Mayor Ballard’s initiatives to reduce the city’s dependence on petroleum. The Indianapolis City Council claimed the Mayor’s office developed the program without its consultation, culminating in a lawsuit against the city over the project’s bid process and budget appropriations. The lawsuit was later dropped. Greater engagement with the city council, and potentially other public officials, could have resulted in a smoother rollout of the program.
  • Engage with stakeholders early and frequently to build a stronger, more broadly supported program. During the regulatory proceeding, consumer groups stated that there was little consultation of the community and a lack of transparency surrounding the city’s negotiations with BlueIndy, resulting in charging station siting becoming a major point of contention, with critics saying that BlueIndy stations occupy valuable parking spots. A new agreement between the city and BlueIndy allows the city to relocate up to seven stations if businesses are suffering financially because of them. Earlier consultation with local stakeholders might have prevented this issue from developing.

Lessons Learned from BlueIndy: An EV Shared-Use Mobility Case Study

Lessons Learned from BlueIndy: An EV Shared-Use Mobility Case Study
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Walsh, Alexander and Nigro, Nick
Atlas Public Policy

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