Originally posted on EVANNEX.
By Charles Morris
When I traveled from America to Europe, I was amazed at the variety of cars on the road. German and French brands are dominant in Switzerland, and many of the major models in the states are rare birds or not here. Pickup cars are rarely seen except on farmland.
Europe is moving faster than the United States, and Switzerland is no exception. In October, plug-in vehicles accounted for 14 percent of the auto market. On a recent trip, I saw dozens of different EV models, including VW ID.3 and Renault Zoe (for our very young cows) that are not for sale in the United States.
Flat, humid Florida and mountainous, cold Switzerland have one thing in common, however – Tesla is very popular. I have seen the S3XY alignment several times, including Mega Model 3s numbers. In fact, the Model 3 is the best-selling EV in the country year-to-day, with 3,133 units sold (Renault Zoe # 2, with 2,130 sales).
The highlight of every trip to Switzerland was a visit by my friend Speed, who bought Tesla a few years ago and now defends his enthusiasm for the EVs. He recently changed his model S to Model 3 (photos below), because he wanted to get the latest technology and his Model S felt like a big car on the narrow streets of Europe. We boarded the magnificent vineyards above Lake Geneva (and without warning, I quickly dropped the mafia).
Switzerland is not Norway. Unlike most Western European countries, there are no federal incentives for EV purchases (both cantons – similar to US states – offer incentives, and the federal government has blown up some public pay projects). The growing popularity of EVs seems to be a free market phenomenon (the country’s average average income will definitely help).
Swiss leaders have consistently resisted calls for subsidies or other EVA-boosting measures, partly because EVs are afraid to install an electric grid. A few years ago, Switzerland decided in a referendum that it would suspend its nuclear power plants (as Germany did) and renewable energy is controversial. The country has a lot of hydropower, but most of the land is already being used. Swiss greens strongly oppose wind turbines. The roof sun is rising rapidly, but this is not the sunny of all countries, especially in winter. Of course, tech-savvy people like you, dear readers, know that energy storage is the solution, and that the actual impact of EVS on the grid will be far less than what Joseph’s expected, once it was expanded from vehicle to grid technology.
Public payroll infrastructure is huge. There are currently about 20 Tesla supercharger stations in the country, and non-Tesla express chargers are very common at highway stations. If the aforementioned chicken-and-egg pattern is correct, then my latest 3-week travel information is that there are a lot of eggs and a few chickens that want to sit on top of them – I drive several charging stations, and almost never use one. At one stop, two Tesla-filled supercharger stations and two out-of-the-box chargers were left empty.
Like neighboring Germany, France and Italy, Switzerland has no domestic cars, but the country has hundreds of small and medium-sized automotive industry suppliers, many of which are heavily involved in e-mobility. The giant ABB, cable supplier Huber + Suhner and battery maker Leclanché are some of the key Swiss manufacturers of EVs.
AV ads are now commonplace on TV, billboards, and newspapers in Europe. Like the US, Switzerland is a car-loving country, and you are never far from an auto dealer. Yes, I saw a few EVs for sale, including the new VW ID.4 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 (and two used Model S). However, these represent one car at the end of 20 or more fuel lines. The number of EVs sold in Switzerland (and in Norway and elsewhere) may be respected and growing, but the EVs on the road are much larger than in the old Jalopies burning Aiki gas and diesel. Things are moving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.
All photos courtesy Charles Morris.
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