The electric car, the best alternative to McDonald’s

The highway is not an electric car’s best friend. The opportunity to (re)discover national and department?

In the era of inflation, rising fuel prices and climate change, the very idea of ​​a “roadtrip” may no longer be appropriate, especially when we hear this term “burning gasoline for the pleasure of driving”.

Unless you drive electric, of course (I know, it’s also energy consumption, but without polluting emissions, in short, you understand me).

But if there are two universes that seem incompatible, they are journey on the road of discovery (the best translation I can find road trip) and motorway. In fact, everyone is against them. Most of the time the highway is boring, with rare exceptions made up by uninteresting scenery, and the coffee-pee breaks are just part of the fun, more so than during the big ones. summer migration. Unless, of course, you want to wait 20 minutes in line in front of the coffee machine or in the toilets with dubious hygiene in a service area taken by a population equal to half of Switzerland.

Along with this, and not too far away, there is the sober and sometimes a little old-fashioned beauty of the intersection of modern man, I named the national and the department. It is not necessary to travel thousands of kilometers to rediscover the joy of swimming at legal speed and (re)discovering sometimes unexpected sights, in France, in Europe, or even which country has the most passable road network.

Getting off the highway, a constraint turned into an option

As we have seen, the electric car has prompted a new way of traveling, more peaceful and more mindful. Rumors say that it is not a question of a choice but of a constraint imposed by the concern of autonomy that dictates that one drives slowly between two recharges, and therefore one avoids the highway. Maybe. However, what was originally a constraint has become an option for many electromobilists, and this need to save the battery has made them discover another way to travel. In fact, they will not use the highway unless it is necessary. This is more of an option because many electric cars can easily travel 300 to 350 kilometers at 130 km/h and because motorway sections of more than 250 kilometers do not have high-speed stations charging is rare. .

Electric car travel should be looked at differently. Shorter ranges and longer recharge times than a full tank of gas should be an excuse to stop and look, rather than an obstacle to reaching your destination. The opportunity to announce this old saying: “In travel, what matters is not the destination, it’s the journey”.

A trend that may increase the threats caused by some elected officials and environmental activists on the speed limits of the motorway, as some call for a passage of 120 km / h, or even 110 for the most radical. At this price, the interest of having to separate a kidney every time you travel on the motorway can be very questionable in terms of time saved, let alone excessive consumption, whether of fossil fuel or electricity.

The electric car to restore the secondary networks

There are many reasons to argue for a revitalization of the secondary network. A wishful thinking? Maybe. But we can also imagine public (and private) policies that promote the development of incentive infrastructures that promote electromobility in national and departmental roads. How? You see me coming: by deploying charging networks in secondary networks in addition to (or instead of) those that start to fill the highways. And then also by encouraging hotels, restaurants and places of access (supermarkets) to install charging stations at their destination.

So of course, the local and regional authorities have already made efforts in this direction by installing famous terminals that have become important such as the bakery or the town hall in the village square (and provided by my latest experiences that it works and it is rarely saturated). On the other hand, with some exceptions, the majority of Tesla Superchargers are located outside the highways, but all this is not enough.

Consider that there are as many electric charging stations in the Nationale 7 as there were gas stations in the 1970s, and this sleeping beauty will surely get a color, with a good result in terms of economic dynamics . In addition, if we look elsewhere, we can see for example that as early as 2014, some American states that cross the mythical Route 66 (like the old equivalent of the N7 here) activated the a recharge deployment policy, understanding that theelectric way of life perfectly in keeping with the spirit of walking that reigns on this historic route between Chicago and Santa Monica. A modest effort, of course, but a network that has become denser since, attracting many private operators.

All right, all this is very romantic, but concretely there are still two obstacles.

On the one hand, as shown above, most of the efforts to deploy electro-stations are currently carried out on major highways. Thus, Ionity, Fastned and other TotalEnergies are increasing the openings of highways. However, other players such as Electra or Power Dot favor other locations along the roads. Ditto for Allego, especially following its agreement with big retail giants like Carrefour.

On the other hand, besides the promise of time to be saved, another strong argument pleads in favor of the motorway, that of safety. In France, motorways account for “only” 8.4% of road deaths, the rest of this terrible balance shared between the secondary network and agglomeration.

However, improved infrastructure and smooth driving have already convinced many electromobilists to leave the roads. A trend that will only increase with the development of electric vehicles (12% of new car registrations in France in May, and above all an increase of 30% compared to the same period in 2021) .

Enough to sustain secondary networks and an entire ecosystem of shops, places to visit, places to stay and restaurants.

If the electric car allows the opportunity to see the development of some local alternatives, i.e. the small restaurant on the side of the department road rather than the McDo at the next roundabout, that’s always a winner, right? right?

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