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French billionaire takes on London’s electric car market

Londoners to hire electric cars?

French industrialist Vincent Bolloré has said he hopes to revolutionize electric travel on the streets of London with plans to bring 3,000 electric rental cars to the capital.

IER -- a subsidiary of Bolloré Group which runs Paris's Autolib car-sharing service -- was selected by Transport for London to take over the management of Source London, the capital's electric vehicle (EV) charge-point network and membership scheme.

Bolloré said the group would upgrade the U.K. capital's 1,400 electric car charging points and ensure there were 6,000 in place by 2018.

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Antoine Antoniol | Getty Images

"It's very important to offer to citizens a complementary system of public transport because they need,from time to time, to use a car," Bolloré told CNBC on Wednesday.

He said that a good infrastructure of charging points around London would act would help encourage people to embrace electric cars. Furthermore, by offering a low-cost rental scheme (with membership from £5 or $8 per month), people would become aware of the benefits of this form of transport.

Bolloré added that IER offered much longer-lasting batteries for electric cars, which he said was "the key" to a vehicles autonomy.

Autonomy relates to the distance a vehicle can travel on the battery life, and Bolloré said that in a city, cars should have 200km-250km autonomy.

The group has stakes in French advertising giant Havas – where Bolloré used to be chairman - as well as phone and entertainment company Vivendi.

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Last Thursday, Bouygues made an offer for Vivendi of 10.5 billion euros ($14.58 billion) in cash and 46 percent of the new company after a planned spinoff.

Discussing the possible deal, Bolloré -- who is vice-chairman of Vivendi – said: " I am sure that all the board will be keen to defend the best interest of our company."

In reference to France's nascent economic recovery, Bolloré did not take any swipes at the unpopular French President Francois Hollande – calling instead on his fellow industrialists to invest in the region.

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"(Bolloré Group) was created 192 years ago... it means that we have known two kings, one emperor and 24 presidents. So whatever (happens), our group will make it with the people in charge," he said.

"I believe that all the industrialists... must invest, and it's clear that the situation in all Europe has been complicated and we must all work to succeed and to supply -- and that we are trying to do."