Zermatt, Switzerland, Emission-Free Ski Resort in the Foothills of the Alps
Not only does Zermatt present attractive natural attractions, it is also committed to making the area emission-free. Therefore, conventional vehicles using fuel oil are not allowed to enter.
ZERMATT is a tourist village located in Switzerland. The area in the Valais District which is surrounded by high mountains is included in the western Alps group. The mountains are Monte Rosa 4,634 meters above sea level (masl), Dom (4,545 masl), Liskam (4,527 masl), and the Matterhorn (4,478 masl).
It was the Matterhorn that catapulted Zermatt into what was once a poor village. At that time, most of the population worked as farmers and ranchers, transforming into a prestigious tourist destination.
Since British mountaineers led by Edward Whymper successfully climbed the Matterhorn in 1865, Zermatt’s name has skyrocketed. Many climbers stop before continuing their mission to climb to the top of the Matterhorn.
Besides the Matterhorn, the attraction of the area with a population of around six thousand people is the electric vehicles milling about there. The cars looked very different from those commonly found elsewhere. The electric car in Zermatt has a special design. The body is smaller than the type elsewhere.
In that area, only electric vehicles are allowed to operate. It also only belongs to taxi companies or other companies engaged in various fields. Vehicles belonging to residents are not allowed into the Zermatt area. “Local residents and workers from outside Zermatt are allowed to drive their vehicles up to the parking lot on the outskirts,” said Rita Tatiana, an employee at a hotel in Zermatt.
If local residents and workers are allowed to drive up to the city gates, so are visitors. They are only allowed to drive the car until Taesch which is about 5 km from Zermatt. From there, they continue their journey by train or shuttle from a company that has obtained a permit from the local government.
The majority of visitors park their vehicles at Taesch’s Matterhorn Terminal which can accommodate 2,100 cars. “If anyone dares to drive a private vehicle as far as Zermatt, the police will definitely come and you will be fined,” he added.
Initially, there was no specific prohibition on bringing fossil fuel vehicles to Zermatt. In the 1950s, the car population was only a matter of fingers in Zermatt. Apart from the fact that at that time cars were very expensive, this was also due to the very poor road conditions from Saint Niklaus to Zermatt, requiring horse-drawn carriages to transport passengers to Zermatt.
It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the local government of Zermatt decided to go fully electric. However, they have their own rules regarding the model. ”The maximum width is 1.4 meters with a maximum length of 2 meters. Electric vehicles in Zermatt need to be designed in a small form because the roads here are also narrow,”said Bruno Imboden, co-owner of Stimbo, the local electric car company that produces most of the electric cars in Zermatt.
“Besides, the speed is restricted. It should not be more than 30 kilometers per hour,” he added when met at his workshop in Spisstrasse, Zermatt.
The Zermatt native said, with these restrictions, the company has come up with a compact and functional design. Namely, carrying people and goods and being able to pass through the narrow streets of Zermatt which are contoured up and down.
The small cars made by Stimbo are the most used to move the City of Zermatt. Including, nine fleets of electric buses that serve two routes are also made by Stimbo. ”Until now, there are around 500 electric vehicles with various uses registered in Zermatt. Of that amount, maybe 60 to 70 percent is ours,” he said.
The latest generation of electric cars from Stimbo use a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 40 kWh with a power of 360 volts. To fully charge it, it only takes about 1.5 hours. If it is full, the car can be driven up to 140 km.
Bruno said that in Zermatt, electric car owners charge their cars individually. There is no need for facilities such as public electric charging stations (SPLU). ”Because Zermatt is a small area and it can be charged using electricity at home. So, we don’t really need public charging facilities,” he said.
Full Bus Drives without Obstacle on Uphill Road
There are about 500 electric cars registered in Zermatt. Nine of them are electric buses. Which is the only public transport in Zermatt.
The buses operate through three main roads to climb to smaller streets scattered throughout the area which has an area of 246.47 square kilometers. The service time is from 07.00 to 18.00.
The public vehicle has dimensions of 2.25 meters wide and 8.7 meters long. “Electric buses can accommodate up to 70 passengers one way,” said Bruno Imboden, co-owner of Stimbo, which manufactures most electric cars in Zermatt, including electric buses.
This newspaper reporter tried to ride an electric bus to get around Zermatt. From the station, there is a bus stop. At that time, many passengers got off the train and used the public transportation. The bus passengers were relatively full with a few people standing.
Like electric cars, public transportation runs quietly. When passing through narrow and winding roads, the bus is able to go smoothly. Including the incline in the mountainous area.
”It’s a challenge to make a bus that is bigger and heavier uphill. But, we’ve done trials until it finally succeeded,”said Bruno. ”It took us almost a year to make one bus,” he added.
Taking the trolleybus is a cost-effective solution for getting around Zermatt or getting to your hotel from the station. The fare that is set to ride the electric bus in Zermatt is CHF 4 (around IDR 62 thousand). If you decide to buy a weekly subscription ticket, the price is CHF 22 or around IDR 342 thousand. However, if you have a Swiss travel pass, the fare can be free. Compared to taking a taxi, you have to spend CHF 17 or around Rp. 264 thousand for two people, one way.
In addition to cars, buses, and trains, cable cars that take travelers to a number of ski resorts also use electricity.
For example, the cable car that takes you to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, a ski resort on the Klein Matterhorn. There, in winter, visitors can ski. In addition, they can enjoy the famous Matterhorn Mountain closer to the amazing view.
From Zermatt, visitors can take a smaller cable car, with a capacity of 8 people, to Trockener Steg Station. Then, continue the journey by bigger cable car to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Station. The cable car designed by Pininfarina has a capacity of 28 people.
The station is 3,883 meters above sea level, which is the highest mountain station in Europe. ”The view is amazing. It’s really worth trying. My first time going up this high,”said Aaron Case, a tourist from the United States who came with his partner.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CAR IN TOURISM AREA
Zermatt does not have a public electric charging station (SPLU).
A total of 500 electric cars are registered in Zermatt.
Used for various needs. There are taxis, hotel shuttles, garbage trucks, pickups, buses, and box cars.
ZERMATT offers a wide variety of TOURISM. Starting from skiing, hiking, mountain biking, to culinary tours.
There is no special incentive from local authorities for purchasing electric cars.
Swiss high-end brands are opening outlets in Zermatt. Among them, Rolex, Swatch, and Breitling.