EVs in cold, remote climates

Electric vehicles are quiet, fast and reliable. They are filled with incredible state-of-the-art technology, but the price tag and questions of performance in cold climates has made some consumers hesitant to invest.

Technology aside, it seems that people in the Northland have a few primary concerns when considering an EV: How far can I travel? Where can I charge? How long does it take to charge? And, will winter kill my batteries?

Two LCP members volunteered to share their EV experience, which may help others make an educated decision if considering a purchase. Each owns a Tesla brand vehicle. And, while manufacturers, models, and retail price may reflect in automobile performance, the following outlines general concerns.

Range matters

Patrick Basten: “One key thing with electric cars is that 200 miles is a sweet spot. A car that has 200 miles will fit 99 percent of everybody's needs, period.”

George Host: “The Tesla Superchargers, like in Hinckley and downtown Duluth, give you 250 miles in an hour of charge. So, driving it to the Cities, I stop in Hinckley for 15 minutes — time to get a cup of coffee — is enough to get me there and back to Hinckley again without charging. So, right now it's set up very nice for getting around and charging.”

Home charging

Both members have installed 240-volt service (through a contractor) in the garage and have enrolled in an off-peak program through Lake County Power, which allows for overnight charging at a reduced rate.

Host: “It works just fine. I just come home, plug it in at night.”

Basten: “How quick does it charge? Well, that doesn't really matter. Because, you have all night. You're sleeping. The car can take as long as it wants.”

Traveling with an EV

Planning is critical when going long distances with an electric vehicle, but the charging infrastructure continues to improve in remote locations.

Host: “You can go coast to coast. You can go Boston to California just by leap frogging superchargers. There's a phone app, and when you program a trip in your car it'll give you a warning if it thinks you're going to be low when you get there.”

Basten: “They call it range anxiety. You will worry, but then you realize after you get over that hurdle, it's not an issue.”

Effect of cold climate on batteries

Some statistics have indicated that the average person travels about 80 miles per day.

Basten: “Let's say it has 250-mile range normally during warmer weather. By warmer weather, I mean anything above freezing. You don't see a drastic difference until you get to the single digits and below zero. And there, you'll get, I'd say about the 20 percent range. So rather than getting 250 you can get 200.”

Host: “You might have a 25, 30 percent loss of range in really cold weather and using all your electricity. Even if I drive 80 to 100 miles, It's not a factor. I get back to my garage and it takes three hours to get that charge back.”

*More detail from these interviews will be featured in upcoming editions of Newsline as the co-op commits to be a member-resource for electric vehicle education.

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