BMW has formally launched trials of its Mini E electric model in France, following similar tests in the US, the UK and Germany.

At a ceremony at the Place de l'Etoile in the French capital, the German automaker handed over the keys to 25 private and 25 fleet users including electricity provider EDF and the Mairie de Paris.

The six-month trial in what BMW describes as the "French megacity" will be followed by a further test for five months starting 15 July.

France becomes the fourth country following the US, the UK and Germany to trial the Mini E and before further testing in Japan and China.

Users will receive a card allowing for free parking in Paris, while charging stations will be provided at home and around the city. Some 50 stations are currently in Paris with more due to be added.

BMW is to launch its so-called Megacity vehicle in 2013. However, the Mini E is not expected to come to market and has purely been developed for this electric trial.

The French government - as several other administrations around Europe - will offer grants to EV purchasers.

"There is a EUR5,000 (US$6,700) subsidy reserved for the first 100,000 cars who register [for] 100% electric - this applies right now," a BMW spokesman told just-auto.

Despite the EUR5,000, BMW France concedes the public "has a few question marks," concerning EVs, mainly involving how to recharge the vehicles in such a densely populated city of nearly 12m.

"Garages are problem in Paris with the parking," added the spokesman, although he insisted the public was "very supportive."