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Zoom Zoom in Paris

Parisians who flocked to use the popular Velib bike hire scheme are now able to zip down the Champs-Elysees in environmentally friendly electric cars with the self-service car hire scheme, Autolib.

According to Paris City Hall, 58% of Parisians don't have a car. A study by Paris urban consultancy APUR showed a Parisian car is parked 95% of the time and that 16 % of Parisians use their car less than once a month.

Autolib will see 3,000 electric vehicles take to the streets, with drivers able to pick up a car from one of the 1,000 stations around Paris.

You need a drivers license recognised in France to subscribe to the scheme and you can reserve a car in advance or take your chances at one of the stations spread throughout the city.

An annual subscription costs 12 euros per month with daily and weekly options also available. Using the car costs 5 euros for the first half hour, four euros for the next and six for the following half-hours, to encourage short journeys.

A test phase of the program is scheduled for August and September this year before the official launch in October.

French conglomerate Bollore, led by charismatic entrepreneur Vincent Bollore, has won the contract to provide its small four-seater electric cars for the scheme. The bubble-shaped Bluecars, designed by Italian partner Pininfarina, have a range of 250 km in the city between charges, which will take about four hours.

As governments seek cleaner air for cities and carmakers battle to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of their fleets, electric vehicles are taking on a more important role.

Paris' socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who pushed for the introduction of Velib, is one of the driviing forces behind the scheme.

The Velib self-service bike hire scheme was launched in 2007 and quickly grew, despite problems including theft and vandalism, to become a fixture of Parisian streets, with many commuters choosing one of the heavy grey bikes over a bus or metro ride.

The name Velib combines French for bike "velo" with "liberte" freedom. And now, Paris residents and visitors will have the same freedom to zip along gorgeous Parisian streets in a little blue bubble car.