At a cost of 15 million dollars, the F-City project is to develop an individual electric vehicle with free access, which would be "a response to the call for the City of Paris for the Auto'lib. Several other cities are interested but also the SNCF which wants to integrate a combined train/individual electric vehicle" says Pascal Bernard, general manager of FAM Automobiles.
The Eastern French competitiveness cluster "Vehicles of the Future" aims to become the benchmark for innovative solutions to urban mobility. Among the most successful projects, there are two self-service vehicles with electric motors: The Crystal of Lohr Industrie, and the F-City, FAM Automobiles. The first one could be driven in three years either in the form of individual vehicles or in "convoy" collective. The second, based on a system of removable batteries, will enter into a production phase in 2009.
The centre of Alsace and Franche-Comté seeks to solve the problem of individual travel in the city. "We believe that all communities will restrict or prohibit access to conventional cars in the city centre. We therefore support projects that offer alternatives, based on the provision of clean vehicles for free access" explains Philippe Chican, director of corporate R & D centre vehicles of the future.
If Philippe Chican believes in the future cars with fuel cells, the mobility projects the most advanced to date relate to the time of electric motor-powered vehicles. "F-City" has emerged within the cluster. And "it is not a model, the products are already in process" says Pascal Bernard. Also, the F-City is more than just an electric vehicle; it is a "family of mobility solutions, which includes an embedded intelligence tested for two years now on a fleet of vehicles in Antibes" says Pascal Bernard. This technology allows the user wishing to rent an F-City to locate the vehicle in the nearest terminal or to thwart the daily traffic problems downtown. F-City has another advantage: "F-City addresses the issue of charging time of batteries, the main obstacle to the use of electric vehicles. In fact, rather than stop a car for eight hours to recharge, the operator of the fleet of F-City can change the battery, since we have developed a rack system removable in ten minutes" says the General Manager of FAM.
In 2010, an NGV version of the F-City will be in production in order to allow a better autonomy.
Source: FAM press