INDIANAPOLIS -- Avid support from Republican Mayor Greg Ballard made this city seemingly ideal for the U.S. launch of Bollore Group's BlueIndy electric vehicle ride-sharing service.
Asked why his company chose this conservative Midwestern city instead of some coastal metropolis, Cedric Bollore, vice president for development for the suburban Paris conglomerate, says: "I think we chose each other. Mayor Ballard was really enthusiastic. He was so enthusiastic it went faster than it may have in other cities."
But the speed of the rollout has caught many off guard as BlueIndy cars and charging stations have begun popping up around town -- and occupying dedicated parking spaces.
The service has been embroiled in controversy since its Sept. 2 launch. Some members of the Indianapolis City-County Council charge that Ballard exceeded his authority committing $6 million in city funds to the new service, which started with a fleet of about 50 cars but is to grow to 500 or more.
On Sept. 14, the council voted to tow the small electric hatchbacks from prime parking spots on Washington Street downtown. Ballard's office countered by saying the cars are "legally parked." Other critics charge that the city could better spend the money it is putting into BlueIndy on new buses or police pursuit vehicles.
One resident angry about the program is an EV advocate. Restaurateur Martha Hoover might seem a natural BlueIndy supporter. She and her husband own two electric cars: a Tesla and a Nissan Leaf. But Hoover is angry because the city allocated five prime parking spaces at her Cafe Patachou for BlueIndy cars and accompanying charging stations.