Electric vehicles will be allowed to drive at higher speed limits than gas cars, says Austrian government

A new initiative from the Austrian government is set to reward electric car owners with a unique incentive. On October 25, the Austrian ministerial cabinet announced that it would be adjusting the speed restrictions for electric vehicles traveling in the country’s IG-L-Hundred zone, which covers a total area of 440 kilometers (273 miles). With the updated rules in place, owners of Teslas and other electric vehicles will be allowed to travel up to 130 km/h (80 mph) on the highway, 30 km/h (20 mph) faster than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.

Austrian Minister of Sustainability Elisabeth Köstinger noted that the speed limit exception for electric vehicles is part of the country’s initiative to encourage the adoption of sustainable transportation. Together with the adjusted speed limits, the Austrian government is also pushing to open bus lanes for zero-emissions cars, and promote free parking programs for electrified vehicles.

“The exception for electric vehicles in the IG-L-Hundred is an advantage that we want to give owners of e-vehicles to internal combustion engines,” Köstinger said.

While the specifics of the speed limit incentive are yet to be fully announced, the Austrian government’s wording on the program suggests that the exception would be tailor-fit for battery-powered vehicles like Tesla’s electric cars. Köstinger, for one, noted that the top speed advantage would be given to EV drivers over drivers in vehicles with internal combustion engines. With this statement in mind, it appears that hybrid vehicles such as the BMW i8, which are equipped with a internal combustion engines and electric motors, would not be awarded the same top speed incentive.

The country’s EV community would likely appreciate a speed limit incentive for electric cars, and if it proves effective in Austria, there is a good chance that the program would be adopted in other regions as well. Electric cars, after all, emit no emissions regardless of their speed, and with the advent of high-performance vehicles like the Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3, EVs are now more than capable of maintaining high speeds for long periods of time. With batteries getting cheaper and better, electric cars will soon be able to travel even farther than before as well. With this in mind, even simple perks like a higher speed limit would likely encourage even more drivers to join the growing electric car movement.  

When Tesla started rolling out the original Roadster more than ten years ago, the small, two-door sports car broke the stereotype of electric vehicles being nothing more than glorified golf carts. Prior to the original Tesla Roadster, electric vehicles were seen mostly as novelty cars, with fancy technology but little performance to show for. A mainstream attempt at a battery-powered vehicle, GM’s EV1, was promising, but it was unceremoniously canceled and eventually forgotten amidst the advent of the large SUV.

Since the days of the original Tesla Roadster, the improvements in electric car technology have been palpable. With the Model S, X, and 3, Tesla was able to prove that battery-powered vehicles are not only a viable alternative to fossil fuel-powered cars — in some points, they are even better. With countries such as Austria and other nations like France and Britain adopting a strong zero-emissions stance, more and more well-rounded electric cars are coming to market. Tesla currently rules the premium EV segment, though its Model 3 is steadily approaching its highly-anticipated $35,000 mark. In the lower end of the market, entries in the electric car segments are getting more impressive as well, in the form of vehicles like the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, and the current-gen Nissan Leaf.

Electric vehicles will be allowed to drive at higher speed limits than gas cars, says Austrian government
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