Electric Share Cars

The little Renault Mobilize self-service share cars are a fantastic service for anyone who needs an occasional car and doesn’t want to go through the hassle or expense of doing a full-on car rental.  Once you sign up you just click and go, and there are over 50 cars waiting for you 24/7, conveniently dotted all over town.

Step-by-step instructions are below, but first, here are my…

Top-ten Favorite Things about the Mobilize Share Cars

Anyone that has a driver’s licence from anywhere can sign up, even tourists; you don’t have to live here or even have a French bank account.  (There is, however, one huge exception that affects the majority of Americans … see the bottom of this post for the details and the crazy explanation!)

Easier to use than the Velos.   See what’s available and reserve a car on your phone with one click, then just go and get it.   Easier than Nice’s Velo Bleu self-serve bicycles because you don’t always know if one will be there waiting for you. The cars must be returned to the same spot, but unlike the bikes, at least this guarantees that there will be a spot to return it.

No minimum purchase or commitment.   After you sign up, you can use the cars as much or as little as you want.

Not expensive.   In general, figure around 7€ an hour by day, and 5€ by night, with several all day/all night deals available.

Everything is included.  The rental fee includes 50km/30miles a day, insurance (but attention: there is a pretty big deductible…), and 24-hour roadside assistance.

No gas!   A money-saver, true, but also a major hassle-saver as you can now dispense with that last-minute gas station top-off session before returning the rental car.   And no more petrol-stinking fingers.

Easy on the nerves.  Electric cars are silent… which frankly takes some getting used to!  Thankfully, these have radios.

Mini-trucks too!  The cars are mostly little two-doors, but there are also small four-doors and mini-vans, and also some trucks and utility vehicles available for moving day, furniture shopping, trips to the plant store or DIY shopping…

And the final cherry sur le gateau for those of us that are chronically lost:  the cars have GPS, and in English!

How to Sign Up for the Share Cars

To sign up just download the free Renault MOBILITY by MOBILIZE app through the App Store or Google Play.  You will need to upload a photo of your ID, drivers license, credit card, and a selfie holding your ID. Within 2 days your application will be validated and you’re good to go!

Cost to Rent

The basic rate for a Zoe or Twingo is 7€ an hour by day, and goes down from there if you rent at night, a weekend, or for a set period.  It goes up if you want a fancier model.  The rental includes 50km/30 miles every 24 hours, and above that you pay a little extra.  They block 450€ damage deposit on your card, and the hold is lifted 2 days after you return it.  Insurance is included but… and this is a big but… you are on the hook for a deductible of just under a 1000€ for damage, and just under 2000€ for theft.

How far can you go?

The electric cars can go 200-300km on a full charge, and when you choose your car you can see how much it’s charged.  Your rental includes a free 50km/30 miles a day without paying .20 centimes extra per km, so 25km (15 miles) round trip. Just for a gauge, it’s roughly 50km between Nice-Ventimiglia or Nice-St Raphael.  You are allowed to take the cars into Italy, by the way.

How to pick up the car

You can see what’s currently available with the app, click and go.  Or reserve a car; you choose the type of car, the pick up location, and how long you want it for… and it’s yours.

When you arrive to pick up your car, just open your app and wave your phone over the charging post, which pops open, so you can unplug the car and stow the plug in the post.

Next wave your phone over the blinking light in the car window, and the car unlocks.

Inside the car you enter your 4-digit code on the little screen and confirm that the car is clean and undamaged inside and out.

Now turn the key (remember, the car is silent so there is no start-up motor varoom, just a light that goes on) and hit the gas and away you go! The cars are all automatic transmission, not stick shift.

As you pull out, notice if your parking spot has a barrier… if so, there will be a little beeper-like device attached to the dashboard, which when clicked will raise and lower the parking barrier to prevent other cars from nicking your coveted spot!

Driving tips

The cars are silent, which means that no one can hear you coming, so be hyper-vigilant for unsuspecting pedestrians.

The key is attached to the car, so if you stop off somewhere, always lock the car by waving your badge over the blinking light in the window, otherwise anyone could jump in and drive off with your car!

If the car won’t lock, it is probably because it is still (silently) running! When you stop, you need to put the car in ‘park’ and turn the key all the way to ‘off”.

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Returning the car

You can click the GPS screen ‘return to station’ and it will guide you back home.

When you arrive, be sure to turn the key all the way to off.  The screen will ask you if there is any damage, and you answer ‘no’.

Underneath the dash, on the left, there is a lever to pull to open the little charging door, and you’ll hear a click when it opens.

Now go wave your badge over the charging post, pull out the cord and plug the car in.

Finally, check that you have not left anything in the car, shut the door and wave your badge over the blinking light in the window to lock it.  That’s it!

Americans in Nice Singing the Blues… the Autobleues

Autobleue says no to AmericansOnly Americans coming from the following 18 States that have a reciprocal driver’s license agreement with France can sign up for the Share Cars:

Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

This weird rule stems from a concern over teenage drivers; in France the minimum driving age is 18, so they only make reciprocal agreements with places that have the same age minimum… which is all well and good if the driver in question is underage, but if you are a 40-year-old and have been driving for 24 years, they still won’t let you have a French license or drive an Share Car.   It’s not only Americans; a few other countries have the same situation.  All EU countries are golden (so Brits: you’re in), but anyone from a non-EU country should check this list to see if you get to be part of the in-crowd as well.

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