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What is It Like to Be in the Swiss Ski Resort That Banned (Almost All) Cars

The ski resort of Zermatt, Switzerland, doesn’t allow any internal combustion vehicles on its streets, and only a handful of companies are allowed to own electric vehicles

Zermatt, Switzerland, sits at the bottom of a valley, making it the perfect place for a ski resort, but a difficult place to access. That means that it is sheltered from a lot of change, including the advent of internal combustion vehicles.

As cars became popular around the world, the town simply decided that the horse-drawn carriages that clip-clopped their way around it were better suited to transportation than the cars that were loud, dangerous, and required a lot of new infrastructure.

To this day, internal combustion cars and vans remain banned from Zermatt, though there are fewer horse-drawn carriages around. That’s because the town did eventually relent, and eventually decided that it would allow small electric vehicles to drive on its streets.

Now, Zermatt is full of cars that people who grew up in the UK might recognize as milk floats. The town decided that the small vehicles, which were designed to be easy to repair, to have long service lives, and to be quiet, were the only ones it would allow on its streets.

Although the vehicles are common on the small town’s streets, it isn’t overrun with them. That’s because they aren’t available to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Instead, anyone who wants one has to apply for it, and they’re mostly approved for hotels, taxi companies, and delivery companies – because individual stores tend not get approval for the vehicles either.

So few of them are on Zermatt’s streets, in fact, that a local company was founded to make them after others decided the town was too small to serve. As a result, the vehicles are quite expensive, starting at around 140,000 Swiss francs ($160,347 USD, at current exchange rates).

That hints at one of the realities that has kept Zermatt car-free all this time. The resort town is quite wealthy, and has been able to outsource the parking needs of skiers to a neighboring town. However, according to a video from Tom Scott, the lack of traffic noise makes Zermatt feel like a true refuge from the internal combustion world.

Source: Car Scoops



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