Rent a hybrid in Paris for nearly nothing?

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The mayor of Paris is proposing that the city offer about 2,000 electric vehicles for the public and tourists to use. The cost in euro would be about $5 an hour, depending on mileage. Details are expected next month, according to the London Times.

You'll likely be able to use an electric vehicle, dubbed by locals Voiturelib' ("free car"), that can go a maximum of about 60 miles an hour, according to the car blog Jalopnik. Under the plan, public cars will be available to the residents and tourists without needing to book ahead. If you subscribed to the proposed service, you would be able to pick a car up from a station and leave it anywhere in the city, with fees being deducted from your credit card.

Paris already has a car-sharing scheme with regular gas-guzzling cars. You subscribe to the services offered by three companies and then whenever you need a car, you pick it up in a parking space near you and pay roughly $4 to $13 an hour, depending on your plan, or a fee by the kilometer driven. When done, you return the car where you picked it up. Gas is included in the price. Tourists can use the services, but be aware that the participating company websites are in French: Caisee Commune, Mobizen, and Okigo.

The program is similar to the free-bicycle program in Paris that we told you about last summer. That program has been wildly successful. Called Vélib', it has spawned its own language: There is the véliber (to ride a free bike), and the derivatives vélibataire (single male cyclist), vélimace (cyclist moving at a snail's pace), vélibation (a drunk night on a free bike), and Vélibabouchka (a bike-riding grandma), according to the Dictionnaire du Vélib' by Anne Abeillé.

The program has also spawned its own traditions. "A seat turned backwards is an indication that that particular bicycle has a flat tire, a broken chain or some other fault, and other users should avoid it," according to blogger Khoi Vinh.

MORE Info on free bicycle programs in Europe by Paul Brady at the blog Jaunted.

ELSEWHERE ON OUR SITE Here's Budget Travel's round-up of free bike programs in Europe.

EARLIER ON THE BLOG Air France starts a carbon-offset program.

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