Blue Indy was a car sharing program in Indianapolis, Ind. which operated for almost five years, securing around 11,000 users and generating around 180,000 rides. Now Blue Indy is dead, and many of its unique Pininfarina-designed Bolloré BlueCar units are sitting in junkyards waiting to be scrapped. Why scrap perfectly good cars when they could have been sold to me instead?
The program made use of some 250 examples of the built-in-France BlueCar. It is an interesting-looking three-door hatchback that caught my eye when I visited Indy a few years ago. I was interested enough to plunk down around ten dollars for a short drive around the city. I’ve wanted one ever since, but sadly the Bolloré is not sold here.
While a bit austere, the car is plenty good enough for a city commuter. It’s built to be cheap and easy to operate. While the French version is around 12,000 euros, the U.S. version I drove was equipped with more airbags and air conditioning not found in that bargain basement European spec car, and as a result probably cost a bit more.
The U.S. version is stated to have a range of about 120 miles and a top speed of 70 miles per hour. The electric motor is a 50 kW unit (around 67 horsepower) which is certainly enough, and it is powered by a 30 kWh lithium polymer solid-state battery mated to a supercapacitor. It’s plenty good enough for what I would use it for in my daily commute needs.
Despite around $6 million in taxpayer funded subsidies—and my $10—the Blue Indy experiment never really caught on, and never produced a profit. The program cost not only in infrastruture, but the city blocked off 450 parking spaces for the Blue Indy program. According to the IndyStar, the project cost about $50 million, with the company investing $41 million, the city contributing $6 million and Indianapolis Power & Light Co. covering the remaining $3 million.
It was a revolutionary idea back in 2014 when it was first introduced, and hoped to put Indy on the map as a mobility-leader. But, alas, no such luck.
Blue City, the company in charge of the Blue Indy project has relocated what appears to be about half of its better condition BlueCars to Los Angeles to be added to the Blue LA fleet, a similar car sharing service there. The remaining BlueCars were shipped off to a nearby scrap yard for dismantling and shredding. Which truly sucks.
Indianapolis, it’s not too late. Please sell me one of your old BlueCars. I will love it dearly for all the rest of my days. I have been looking for a compact three-door electric car with love-it-or-hate-it Italian styling and a small price tag. Right now the closest I can get is the Mini Cooper SE. I was really hoping the Honda Urban-e concept would make it to production (and the United States market) unchanged, but sadly the on-sale version doesn’t interest me in the slightest.
Better yet, just drop one of them off to me here in Reno on your way to Los Angeles. It’s easy, right off I-80. Just push it off the back of the truck, I’ll collect it.
You know what, though? The best idea is to just sell all of the ones in the scrap yard (the ones that haven’t been smooshed by stacking them three-high like chord wood) and I’ll create a one-make racing series for compact EV hot hatches. There can be a class for stock BlueCar, and there can be an upgraded class with a goddamn Tesla P100 motor up front or something. Sprint races for everyone, 8 bucks a lap!
Yeah. Let’s do that. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of my own infrastructure.