Experiments for industrial exploration: testing a car sharing system

In June 2012, Renault turned Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a town on the outskirts of Paris, into a experimentation and demonstration laboratory. The company introduced a fleet of 50 electric cars as part of a car sharing system without fixed stations called Twizy Way. This scheme falls in line with the manufacturer’s development strategy for the electric car market. According to one of the main project managers, this program is a “first step into new mobilities”.

In this paper will try and present what we consider a quite poorly documented aspect of the STS debate on experimenting and related to boundary work for the experiment. We will therefore take into account the ontological work the experiment will produce as well as its demonstrative ability and the way it intertwines knowledge, as part of this boundary drawing within the framework of the experiment itself. We do not aim at challenging the countless works focusing on the performative effects of experiments, werather reflect on the fact that its limits are often taken for granted and analyse moments of doubt and negotiation concerning what is considered experimental or not. We do not plan on using definition for any social, technical, economic, ecological, urban or political element involved in the experiment and will consider them, on the contrary, as the temporary and negotiated result of this very operation of laboratorisation.

That is why we will speak of a form of flexible laboratorisation affected by doubtand constant reorganisation of the elements making up, overflowing and interfering with the experiment