The highway isn’t an electric car’s best friend. Chance of (re)discovering national and departmental?
In a time of inflation, rising fuel prices and climate change, the idea of ”road” may no longer really be relevant, especially if we hear in that term “fuel burn for driving pleasure”.
Unless you drive electric, of course (I know, it’s also energy consumption, but no polluting emissions, in short, you got me).
But if there are two worlds that seem incompatible, they are two worlds A road trip of discovery (The best translation I could find for her road trip) and the highway. In fact, everything is against them. Most of the time the highway is boring, with rare exceptions built with uninteresting landscapes, coffee breaks are only part of the fun, which is even more so in times of great summer migrations. Except, of course, if you want to wait 20 minutes in line in front of a coffee machine or toilets of questionable hygiene in a service area dominated by a population equal to half the population of Switzerland.
Besides this, and not at all too far off, there is a discreet and sometimes somewhat old-fashioned charm of the crossroads of modern man, I have called the crossroads of national and administrative. No need to travel thousands of kilometers to rediscover the pleasure of slowing down at legal speeds and (re)discovering sometimes unexpected landscapes, in France, in Europe, or in any country with a semi-impassable road network.
Get off the highway, it’s on check
As we’ve already seen, the electric car prompts a new approach to travel, a quieter and more contemplative one. The chatter will say that it is not a matter of choice but of the constraints imposed by the concern of autonomy that commands one to drive slowly between two charges, thus avoiding the motorway. Can. However, what was originally a limitation became an option for many electric mobility specialists, and this need to save battery made them discover another way to travel. In fact, they no longer use the highway unless absolutely necessary. It’s an even more option, as many electric cars can easily travel 300-350 km at 130 km/h, and highway sections over 250 km without high-speed charging stations are now rare.
Traveling with an electric car should be viewed differently. Shorter ranges and longer recharge times than a full tank of gas should be an excuse to stop and wander, not an obstacle to getting to your destination. A chance to update this ancient wisdom: “In travel, what matters is not the destination, it’s the journey.”
A trend that could increase with threats posed by some elected officials and environmental activists about highway speed limits, with some calling for traffic to be 120 km/h, or even 110 for the most extreme. At this price, the benefit of having to break away from a college every time you hit the highway will be highly questionable in terms of the time saved, not to mention the excess consumption, both of fossil fuels and electricity.
Electric vehicle to activate secondary networks
There are many reasons for activating the secondary network. security? Can. But we can also imagine public (and private) policies that promote the development of stimulating infrastructures that promote electric mobility on national and county roads. How ? You see me coming: by deploying freight networks to secondary networks in addition to (or instead of) those that are beginning to fill highways. Then also by encouraging hotels, restaurants and transit places (supermarkets) to install charging stations at their destination.
So, of course, the local and regional authorities have already taken the initiative and made efforts in this direction by installing popular terminals that have become necessary such as the bakery or the town hall in the village square (and, given my most recent experiences, they are rarely saturated). On the other hand, with a few exceptions, the vast majority of Tesla Superchargers are located off the highways, but all of this is still not enough.
Let’s imagine that there were as many electric charging stations in the Nationale 7 as there were in the 1970s, and this sleeping beauty is sure to pick up some color, with the resulting benign results in terms of economic dynamism. Moreover, if we look elsewhere, we see for example that as early as 2014, some US states crossed by the legendary Route 66 (somewhat like the old equivalent of N7 here) activated a transshipment posting policy, after to understand thatElectric way of life It was perfectly in keeping with the hiking spirit of this historic route between Chicago and Santa Monica. A modest effort of course, but it is a network that has since become more dense, attracting a number of private operators.
Well, this is all very romantic, but concretely there are still two obstacles.
On the one hand, as explained above, most efforts are currently being made to deploy electrical stations on major highways. Thus, Ionity, Fastned and other TotalEnergies double the slots on the highways. However, other players like Electra or Power Dot prefer other locations along the routes. The same for Allego, especially after its agreement with big retail giants such as Carrefour.
On the other hand, apart from the promise of saving time, there is another strong argument in favor of the highway, namely the argument for safety. In France, motorways account for ‘only’ 8.4% of road deaths, while the rest of this balance sheet is still pretty shocking to be shared between the secondary network and the conglomerate.
However, improved infrastructure and smoother driving have already convinced many electric mobility operators to leave the highways. A trend that will only increase with the development of electric cars (12% of new car registrations in France last May, and above all an increase of 30% compared to the same period in 2021).
It is enough to revive secondary networks and an entire ecosystem of stores, places to visit, accommodation and restaurants.
If the electric car offered the opportunity to see the development of some local alternative, in other words the little restaurant on the side of the highway instead of the McDo’s in the next roundabout, that would always be the winner, right?