Is Zurich suitable for e-cars? Is it possible to have only e-cars? How is it to drive an e-car through Zurich?
These are all questions we asked ourselves before we started our project, and to answer them we have done an interview and some research. Another part of our project was the self-experiment with a Tesla in Zurich. You can find the video below.
In order to get to know the attitude of the city government of Zurich we wanted to talk to Mr. Andreas Hauri, who is the head of the department of health and environment of the City of Zurich. Unfortunately, he did not have time for an interview. However, he helped us by putting us in contact with Mr. Peter Hofmann.
Interview with Mr. Peter Hofmann
On a Thursday afternoon I “skyped” Mr Hofmann, as the present situation with the Corona pandemics would have made it extremely cumbersome for us to have a physical meeting. Mr. Hofmann works as project manager for the environmental department in Zurich, where he is in charge of studying and monitoring the environmental impact of vehicles.
When I asked him how realistic he thought it was to allow only electric cars in the city of Zurich, he considered this to be a difficult question to answer.
Currently it is not possible to ban diesel vehicles or to only allow electric vehicles to circulate in the city of Zurich, because there is no legal basis for such an action.
On the national and cantonal level, as well as in the city of Zurich itself many efforts are being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, also in order to comply with the climate agreement of Paris. To achieve this goal, rather specific measures have to be taken such as the introduction of so-called low emission zones, as far as this is legally possible. There is still a lot to do to reach these goals and it is not easy, but Mr. Hofmann is confident that it can be done. He sees the role of electric cars in Zürich as a complex one. On the one hand, he is observing a continuous increase in the number of first redeemed electric vehicles, while on the other hand this figure is still in the single-digit percentage range. One reason for the rising numbers is most likely the fact that e-cars are becoming more and more affordable.
During our conversation I also asked him to describe a hypothetical city of the future.
He said that with regard to transport policies such a city would be quite similar to Zurich, where people mainly travel to the city by public transport and continue to use public transport or bicycles once they reach the town center. This greatly reduces air pollution levels and valuable space is not filled by private vehicles.
Basically, he is in favor of using public transport whenever possible, suggesting the use of cars with a small environmental impact as a second best option.
When I asked him about the other points contained in the transport policy, he mentioned the three following guidelines:
1. try to avoid car traffic altogether and if possible, cover all shifts on foot.
2. use public transport such as buses and streetcars
3. use an emission free vehicle
Another point implemented by the city of Zurich is to make it easier for citizens to switch to public transport or bicycle. For example, bicycle paths are to be extended or separate lanes for public transport are to be built.
At the end of our interview, I wanted to know what his opinion on electric cars was and if he owned one himself.
Since he lives in the middle of the city, he does not need to own a car. He often uses his bicycle or public transport for longer distances. If he still needs to transport larger things, he uses a car sharing service called Mobility.
He has acquired his knowledge about electric mobility during his own study time at the beginning of the year 2020.
He still does not have a definitive opinion about electric vehicles. The production of such cars, especially their batteries, is a big thorn in his side, because the many metals and materials used to produce them have a big impact on the environment in terms of extracting and wasting resources.
He also said that he thought Zurich was using electric cars at the expense of East Asian countries.
He concluded by saying that a small electric car powered by green electricity is a step in the right direction, although it does not solve the problem in the long run.
Own experience with a e-car
For our own experience we have used a Tesla Model S. In Zurich we have done some research to find the charging stations. We wanted to know how many they are and if we can search them online. We have found 30 charging stations in the city center.
During our test drive, we pulled up to a charging station and tried it out. One disadvantage of the charging stations in the city of Zurich is that almost all of them belong to hotel complexes or in underground car parks with high parking prices.
The entire drive was very quiet and we had the feeling of gliding.
Video about our own experience:
Authors: Dylan and Nils
Reviewed by Mr. A.
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2 thoughts on “Electric cars in Zurich”
I found your article interesting to read. Your sources are great! In my opinion you did a good job making a comparison with the good and bad things about electrical cars. Your interview with mister Hofmann was also a good benefit. In general, it is a really interesting topic and also quite hard to decide if banning patrol and diesel cars would be a good idea. It would be interesting if you would have compared the opinion with the advantages and disadvantages from the arguments from two persons.
I like your project very much, especially now that the climate discussion has come more and more to the fore.
Your questions to the experts are very well posed, but perhaps you could have gone a little deeper. For example, what would have to happen for electric cars to be promoted more, i.e. support from the state.
With regard to the charging stations, it would certainly have been interesting to know how much charging power the stations charge with and when the vehicle is full again.
While reading, I noticed that there is still a formatting error from time to time. Like forgetting a space or a line break.
On the whole, I like your project very much. Well done.