Austrian e-car drivers get Go-Faster card, raising the speed limit by 30 percent

Would you be more favorable to all-electric vehicles if you could drive them faster without getting speeding tickets?

A newly approved federal law that supports higher highway speeds for electric cars may get pushback from some quarters, but the Austrian government hopes that permitting higher speeds will encourage more people to drive e-cars, according to Green Car Reports.

Austria’s Federal Ministry of Transport reports that all-electric vehicles currently account for 2.5 percent of new-vehicle registrations, a higher percentage than in Germany. Jaguar builds its new all-electric I-Pace SUV in Austria, a point of national pride.

Austria’s speed limit amendment for electric vehicles isn’t a ticket-free nod to go as fast as you can, anywhere, any time. There are restrictions to the e-car speed allowances.

When air pollution levels in Austria are high, vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel and hybrids are restricted to traveling no faster than 62 miles per hour. Under the new regulations, however, drivers in electric cars can motor along up to 81 mph on specified roads without a violation. The higher speed limits apply to a total of 274 miles of roads.

So while the Austrian speed incentive for all-electric vehicles is real, it only applies to certain roadways and only when the air is particularly nasty.

The logic behind the speed differentiation makes sense from an environmental perspective. In general, when fossil-fuel-powered vehicles travel faster, they generate higher ratios of harmful emissions. Zero-emission electric cars, however, don’t morph into road-fogging polluters at higher speeds.

Since the Austrian speed limit differences are only in force when the air quality is bad, the new laws effectively mean that electric cars are exempt from the penalties applied to non-electric vehicles. So it’s not that e-cars are allowed to go faster, they just don’t have to slow down.

Looking beyond the consideration of how fast one is allowed to drive on a particular road at a specific moment, there are two reasons why all-electric car drivers might want to forego the right to higher speed travel: decreased range and increased danger.

Travel range per battery charge is a major consideration when selecting an electric vehicle or deciding to buy an EV at all. Higher speeds and faster acceleration use more battery power at disproportionate rates, so range suffers when you hit the go-pedal harder and when you maintain higher speeds.

Also, traveling at higher speeds, especially on roadways shared with vehicles limited to significantly lower limits,  compounds the danger of higher speed travel.

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