Winter Is Proving Hellish for Some Electric Vehicle Drivers

With temps below freezing, batteries aren't holding their charge
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2024 12:40 PM CST
Winter Is Proving Nightmarish for Some Electric Vehicle Drivers
A charging station outside a Honda dealership on Nov. 12 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

It's not set to get above freezing until early next week in Chicago, and that's increasingly making electric vehicle owners' blood run cold. The problem is that the frigid temps are doing a number on their car batteries, turning the city's electric vehicle charging stations into "scenes of desperation," as the New York Times puts it. NPR reports that lithium-ion batteries—including those in your phone—are highly impacted by cold. EV owners are reporting their batteries are taking longer to charge and then don't hold the charge they have like they typically do. And in cities, where fewer EV drivers have home charging stations, that's proving particularly problematic.

Javed Spencer tells the Times that when he headed toward a charging station in his Chevy Bolt on Sunday, he had 30 miles left on his battery. It died in minutes; a tow truck had to take him to the charging station. Once there, things didn't improve. "When I finally plugged it in, it wasn't getting any charge," Spencer said. It took him five hours to recharge the battery; that's five times the normal time. As one man at a Chicago-area Tesla charging station put it to FOX 32, "We got a bunch of dead robots out here."

Another Tesla owner says he landed at O'Hare Sunday night to find his car battery dead. He had to call a tow truck as well. Still, the Times sounds an optimistic note, reporting the problem will likely ease with time, as more charging stations are built and as newer EV models that are more efficient in the cold continue to roll out. (More electric vehicles stories.)

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