Prior to 2006, Spain’s railway system, RENFE, offered the possibility of taking your car with you on journeys across Spain. It was called AutoExpreso, at its height, it was offered in thirty routes!
With the evermore important adoption of less polluting cars (be them EV’s, or alternative fuel vehicles), maybe it’s time to consider offering this service once again.
Shamefully, as EU money flooded Spain, people started thinking trains were dumb, highways were smooth, and gas was cheap enough to drive themselves and save a lot of time. Low demand, engineering challenges, alongside a fair amount of fear due to terrorist attacks made AutoExpresos go away. A huge economic crisis meant that the Spanish government really never wanted to spend the money to bring them back.
But if they did return them.... it could be a good incentive for adopting electric cars.
During the train journey, EVs, PHEVs, and Fuel Cell cars could be charged by the network, and users could arrive at their destination faster, and with their car charged. It would reduce the required charging infrastructure on the highways, and make adoption of those cars more widespread, especially among those who drive a lot. Spanish drivers average 7500 miles per year... which is not a lot compared to the United States... but still rather high.
There are some problems with offering Auto Expresos once again. Primarily the fact that Spanish cities are increasingly some of the most polluted in Europe, and that local governments might not like the idea of making it easier to import a car to their congested streets and parking lots. No matter how ecological EVs can be, the fact that they take up space in traffic jams and parking lots means they cause local cars to pollute more. The required modifications to the current infrastructure might make it less appealing, cars are notoriously more voluminous than people.
If you can have a traveler arrive and use local public transport, it’s always better than facilitating a car. However, people do rent cars in train stations, so it’s really a hit or miss... Specially for travelers who might prefer the long-distance speed of trains, but whose final destination might be too far from the closest high-speed line, so they have to rent. It’d represent a solution in that regard...
If America ever got itself busy building a high speed train network... it could possibly employ this system, specially for a route like, say, Phoenix-Los Angeles.