Imagine Electric Vehicles in Bad Weather


With more than forty percent of the EV’s in America being in California at the end of 2020, the EV popularity in California has gotten President Biden so excited to want the rest of the country to follow California’s lead that Biden issued a new executive order that pushes for half of all new cars sold in America by 2030 to be electric vehicles.

Even with the great California year-round weather, the states’ EV user’s experiences do not bode well for projected EV sales in America as the states’ EV users may be sending a caution-to-the-wind (no pun intended) message to America that the EV usage in the state reflects very conservative notices to future EV owners. A few reasons why Californians may be sending the wrong message to America are:

  1. The limited usage of the EV’s of about 5,000 miles per year is a reflection that the EV is a second vehicle, for those that can afford them, and not the family workhorse vehicle.
  2. The primary owners of EV’s are the highly educated and financially well off, and not representative of the majority.
  3. EV owner incomes rank among the highest in the country which may be a reflection of home owners that have easier access to charging their EV from their multi-car garages, or for those folks living in new apartments that may have access to more convenient EV charging capabilities. Most car owners park in the street.
  4. According to ValuePenguin insurance, because electric vehicles cost more outright and are more expensive to repair, the average car insurance for an electric vehicle is about 23 percent more expensive than the cost for the equivalent combustion model.
  5. The ethnicity of Tesla owner’s skews toward Caucasians, at 87 percent. Owners who identify with Hispanic ethnicity make up 8 percent of Tesla owners, leaving 5 percent to other ethnicities.
  6. From that limited elite ownership group, there is a growing percentage of those California EV users that are switching back to gasoline cars, which is sending a message that may further deflate EV growth projections.

EVs are still a luxury product that attract the Benz and Beemer crowd, not low- and middle-income consumers. The average household income for EV buyers is about $140,000. That’s roughly nearly twice the US median, which is about $63,000.

Here are a few examples of inclement weather conditions, that will most likely never occur in the idyllic year-round weather of sunny California’s EV “capital” of America:

  • Imagine Florida with a hurricane coming toward Miami. The Governor orders an evacuation. All cars head north. They all need to be charged in Jacksonville. How does that work? If all cars were electric, and were caught up in a three-hour traffic jam with dead batteries, then what? Not to mention that there is virtually no heating or air conditioning in an electric vehicle because of high battery consumption.
  • If you get stuck on the road all night, no battery, no heating, no windshield wipers, no radio, no GPS (all these drain the batteries), all you can do is try calling 911 to take women and children to safety. But they cannot come to help you because all roads are blocked, and they will probably require all police cars will be electric also. When the roads become unblocked no one can move! Their batteries are dead.
  • How do you charge thousands of cars in the traffic jam? Same problem during summer vacation departures with miles of traffic jams. There would be virtually no air conditioning in an electric vehicle. It would drain the batteries quickly. Where is this electricity going to come from? Today’s grid barely handles users’ needs.
  • Frigid driving conditions: Did you know that 17 percent of car crashes in the United States happen in winter conditions? EV batteries must work harder in the cold, which is why they drain quickly in extreme temperatures. Low temperatures, such as 40 degrees or below, can decrease the driving range for EVs by 40 percent.

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Ron Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.

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Electrification of Vehicles

A few years ago my son purchased a Tesla with Ludacris mode for $54K used with a two year Tesla warranty, nearly $100K off the original retail price. I'm a car guy who has had many fast cars, including a Porsche 928 with a Chevy Blower motor making over 600HP and 600lbs torque - instantly, which felt lethargic to the incredible acceleration of that Tesla. And here lies the problem. After the car was delivered, fully charged, Adam needed to show off the car which after just a few runs depleted the battery. Energy is energy be it gas, electric, or other. You want that incredible performance and you pay the price. The Chevy powered Porsche, and a few older Aston Martins I had got less than 10MPG on average, but I could pull up to a wide choice of gas stations and in 5 minutes be on my way. The Tesla's closest charging station was 1/2 mile away from the office we both work at. Adam's commute is 35 miles each way. In Minnesota winters the range of that Tesla is cut in half, so charging 1/2 mile away, and walking in the snow and ice and often below zero weather got old quick. In addition, trips to the Tesla repair for warranty issues were more often than any car I've owned, and I've had a few lemons, and old Astons are no picnic.

Within a few months between trips to repair things and the need to charge constantly and often, Adam sold the car (for what he had in it) and bought a big Nissan SUV. Energy is energy, and where do these people think all that electricity comes from? We would need a ton of solar and wind to serve this potential influx - or more gas or nuclear plants.

Advances in gas engines. I have a 2020 C8 Corvette with 495 HP that gets over 30MPG on the highway, and over 20MPG in the city with 'spirited' driving. I also have a 2020 smallish Buick Encore with a 3 cylinder engine. The Buick gets worse city and highway MPG than the Corvette! The C8 has an amazing engine yet most will say it's very low technology, being a pushrod engine of the past.

Would I get an electric car? No. The Tesla was sole-less something was missing, very cool, yes, but not my thing. I do have my name on the list for the E-Ray, which is the same Corvette I have but with electric motors powering the front. I'm interested not because of the power, but the rumor it may have more of the safety nannies than the current car and the more protection from an accident or incidence the better. I fear a child running into the street and if the car has pedestrian safety features it would be more comfortable for me driving in urban areas. I'm also interested in an electric motorcycle - having that torque on a bike seems interesting and fun.

But the biggest area I think electric will make a difference is in aviation. I've had several airplanes back when I could justify the expense for business. Owning an airplane is not for the financially weary, and especially when those piston engines have problems which is more often than not. Electric planes would be far more reliable, quieter, and vibration-less. If they ever figure out the range issue, that's what will quickly take over that market.