How a famous racing town is turning on to electric
It doesn't take long before you figure it out. Monaco is a car town. The winding roads have played host to the Grand Prix for more than 80 years. The streets are full of remarkable automobiles -- Lamborginis among the most beautiful. And residents will proudly tell you that the formula one cars that race around their streets once each year are the pride of the town.
Leading the car culture is Prince Albert II, His Serene Highness. The monarch of this principality, Prince Albert II is the son of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly. He assumed the throne in 2005 on the death of his father. With 0 percent unemployment and a small and wealthy population, he's a man who clearly doesn't have to spend much time concerned about the day to day issues that affect most of us. Monaco seems to float above the world's problems and concerns.
Which is why it's so notable that Prince Albert has taken a passionate interest in the issues effecting the environment. Prince Albert has gone green. And, given the impact of greenhouse gasses on the environment, he's decided to take a leadership position in an area that is certain to be less than popular among the hard driving, gas-guzzling owners and fans of Fomula One Racing.
Prince Albert has made it his mission to lead the world in adoption and promotion of electric cars.
For the small but passionate community of high-speed electric cars, the first weekend of spring Monaco hosts "EVER Monaco," an exhibition with all EVs and hybrids on the market, conferences on electric mobility, and a rally for green cars. The same streets that have embraced the roar of Fomula One will now invite a new class of race car to hug the turns of the famous track.
Tesla, Fisker and Monaco's own locally-built Venturi Volage are all competitors in the fast-paced world of EV Racecars.
And Monaco's commitment to electric goes beyond the monied owners of celebrated plug-in racecars. While neighbor Nice offers just 40 plug-in points for electric vehicles like the SMART Car, Monaco has a stunning 400 charging stations within the principalities' tiny 0.75 square mile. Buyers of EV's and plug-in hybrids receive a tax rebate of €9,000 (around US$12,600) and owners enjoy free parking anywhere in the Principality, and free charging too.
And just to make sure his subjects understand that he leads by example, The Prince arrived at his wedding last year in a custom built Lexus full hybrid LS 600h L Landaulet.
Electric vehicles are shifting into high gear, from prototypes and concept cars to vehicles that can have a meaningful impact on reducing greenhouse gasses and slowing the environmental impact of global warming.
Day to day, the impact of making cities 'electric friendly' can only happen with access to charging stations. Monaco's leadership in this regard can't be underestimated. But on global scale, having the beating heart of automotive enthusiasts embrace the purr of the electric car in the winding race track that has for so long rung with the roar of performance Formula One race cars can't be underestimated. Making electric cars cool is as much an effort of storytelling as it is a effort of advertising. And it's not hard to imagine in the years ahead that great stories of remarkable race victories will emerge from the FAI (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's) as have come from the Grand Prix. Expect the new Formula E ('E' for Electric) race season to be be announced as soon as next year.
Prince Albert's joy behind the wheel of his electric Lexus speaks volumes, sells cars, and opens minds to an electric vehicle future that is both green and powerful. Gearheads - - this is the checkered flag of a new race about to begin. Start your engines -- softly -- and we're off!