French entrepreneur offers motorists chance to drive green

July 13th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, July 13 (Xinhua) Electric, hybrid, LPG or biofuel - the green car market is booming as people in increasing number around the world become aware of the havoc fossil fuels wreak on the environment. The spiralling oil prices have further driven people to look for alternative fuels.

“Due to high fuel prices, people are being forced to take a second look at how they move from one place to another,” said a Paris-based car dealer. “Fuel efficiency has become the buzz word.”

Seizing on the urgency of an environment-friendly economical fuel, a French entrepreneur has launched a website, which will be the first free site for advertising vehicles run on such fuels.

The idea of establishing such a site dawned on Claire Bertin, a 31 year-old mother of two, who had tried in vain to hire an electric car for her personal use.

“I quickly learnt that it was not easy to find one on the Internet,” she says.

Bertin has a long experience of working with a Paris-based car rental. Soon, she hired a webmaster to set up her site discreetly and as quickly as possible for fear of “the idea falling in the wrong hands.”

In order to do this, the resident of Taillan-Medoc, a Paris suburb, approached the government and was given assistance through the Assedic mechanism set up to help budding entrepreneurs.

The site opened three months ago and Bertin has set aside some three hours daily to update it.

“I go through the classified pages of other media, especially the mainstream ones, in order to attract ads to my site,” says the mother of two. The selection is strict. “I exclude all vehicles running on petrol or diesel,” she says.

On the site, there are cars catering for all people and tastes. The prices range from 1,000 euros (about $1,550) for a Twingo running on LPG to a hybrid Lexus that is going for 52,900 euros. Each vehicle, usually accompanied by a photograph, is classified into four different categories.

“This largely depends on whether it is electric, hybrid, LPG or biofuel,” Bertin says adding that her idea was inspired by the urgency to protect the environment and also promote fuel efficiency.

Nevertheless, Bertin admits that choosing what ads to host on the site is not always an easytask. Only recently, she declined to post ads for a four-wheel-drive LPG and a Porsche running on bioethanol.

“I thought they consumed too much fuel to be regarded as ecology-friendly,” she said.

Currently, Bertin’s site, which is still young in the business, is receiving over 3000 hits per day and has a list of more than 200 environmental vehicles, while a dozen sales have already been made.

For now, the website is far from turning a profit and Bertin, who has invested over 6,000 euros of her own savings in it, is still working for free.

But the young woman, who demonstrates a genuine concern for the environment, is placing her hopes in the future. She continues to hope that the site will soon attract advertisers, such as automakers and she has also plans to ask car dealers to pay.

In the meantime, she is working on the development of a new version of the site, which will place ads by region, mileage and budget.

But while the new version is set to be up and running in a few days, the young environmentalist is already busy with another project: a site on a European scale, in by making available in German, Italian and Spanish languages by September.

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