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Visiting the Principality of Monaco: electric car examples of transportation innovation

Updated on April 9, 2011
Flag of Monaco
Flag of Monaco | Source
Battery-electric vehicle demonstration, Monaco
Battery-electric vehicle demonstration, Monaco | Source
A Monaco tunnel
A Monaco tunnel | Source
Map of Monaco
Map of Monaco | Source

Tunnels, too

Myth: Monaco is full of Rolls Royces and its economy is unaffected by downturns in the world economy. Reality: I may have typically seen one or two Rolls Royces in the course of each of various visits to Monaco, but actually its Government is a strong supporter of electric automobiles.

The entire territory of the Principality of Monaco is today mainly an urban type of environment and is among the most densely populated states in the world. Thus the issues of road traffic congestion and the hazards of pollution have been special challenges for its authorities and the Princely Government has met the challenges in a number of innovative ways, one of which is support for the electric car.

Government support for electric cars

For reasons of economic efficiency and as a range of measures to combat pollution and to promote clean air, the Princely Government has for many years encouraged the presence of battery-electric cars. The innovation-friendly Ministry of State has actively subsidized the puchase of electric cars.

The Principality has been the venue for events where automobiles with this clean and efficient propulsion have been displayed and promoted. In 2010 the Nissan LEAF had its début at the EVER Monaco electric vehicle show.

Venturi Fétish manufactured in Monaco

The Venturi Fétish sports car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2002, is manufactured in the Principality. It is a two seater automobile, the electric engine of which produces about 250 horsepower (180 kW).

In addition to the Fétish, some more recent electric vehicles developed by Venturi in Monaco are the Electic and the Astrolab, both of which incorporate solar panel powering.

Ozone monitoring

The Princely Government closely monitors ozone levels above the Principality.

A law in Monaco empowers the Government to close its roads to gas powered vehicles for specific periods. This would occur if the officially sponsored ozone monitoring indicates that, in accordance with clearly defined scientific principles, this measure is deemed to be necessary.

Tunnels ease road congestion

Traditionally the rocky topography of Monaco has been pivotal with respect to foreign relations: Monaco Town is synonymous with The Rock (Le Rocher ) and its historical impregnability from land and sea attacks meant that its situation was strategic as regards sea power.

Nowadays, the Principality's civil engineers have efficiently tunnelled numerous roads under the various rocky suburbs, in many cases cutting road journey times to a fraction of what they would be in heavier traffic via winding détours, and easing road congestion. I do not once recall being in a traffic jam during my visits to Monaco.

Memories of clean, fresh air

The success of efforts to promote clean air in Monaco are very evident to the lay visitor. Instead of polluted air above such a densely populated area, I recall enjoying the clean and fresh breezes in this remarkable Mediterranean country (breezes which have about a dozen different Monégasque language names for them, depending on their direction.)

North Americans can take this extraordinary country as a striking example of transportation innovation and emulate its measures.

So come and see: it really can be done.

Worth seeing

Monaco's cultural treasures and things of great historic value are too numerous to mention here, but museums include the Naval Museum (Musée Naval de Monaco ) is situated in Fontvieille . The Oceanographic Museum (Musée Océanographique ) is situated in Monaco Town , on the historic Rock.


How to get there: Delta Airlines flies direct from New York to Nice, France (Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur ). Nice airport is a 7-minute helicopter flight from Monaco's heliport (Héliport de Monaco ). There are also bus links from the airport to Monaco. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services to Monaco from Downtown Nice. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Nice include easyJet, from London Luton Airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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