By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup
Over the last couple of years, some in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere have been preaching to us about the benefits of electric vehicles. It has gotten to the point many are thinking, “Maybe there is something to them.” Then again, after visiting with people who have them and have driven into Wyoming, it becomes a “Well, maybe not.”
Let’s face it, some day we’ll all be driving vehicles that are not powered by an internal combustion engine fueled by diesel or gasoline. We’ve had the big push to run our vehicles fueled by natural gas, but this push didn’t go far.
During the last election, we had a big push from politicians for electronic vehicles from manufacturers. It all sounded good in advertising and sound bites, but these days we’re not hearing a lot.
Reality has told us our region’s infrastructure is just not ready for electronic vehicles, and we had to learn the hard way. It looks like our infrastructure will not be ready for these vehicles for some time.
Those living in a big city or other highly populated areas are going to be OK. But, in reading a story about someone who drove from New York City to Boston – a 200-mile trip – panic set in when their battery dropped below 20 percent charged. The driver said he was “assured this might be one of the country’s easiest electronic vehicles routes, those assurances were misplaced.”
It does take a lot of electricity to charge an electric vehicle’s battery in a decent amount of time. Standard home outlets generally deliver 120 volts – level one, and electric cooking stoves and clothes dryers take 240 volts – level two. Tesla has a “supercharger” which can fully charge the car in a little over an hour and runs on 480 volts – level three.
They say in a standard neighborhood, with the current electric infrastructure, only a couple of homes would be able to charge cars at the same time with 480 volts. In both Wyoming and throughout the region, a few hotels have electronic vehicle chargers, along with a number of truck stops.
In California, according to a study, roughly 20 percent of current owners have replaced their electronic vehicles with gasoline vehicles. The main reason the drivers made the switch was the inconvenience of charging the car. Of those who switched back, over 70 percent lacked access to level two connections at home and fewer than 70 percent lacked level two connections at work. One person noted, even with faster charging, a Chevy Bolt electronic vehicle he tested still needed nearly six hours of charging to go 300 miles from almost empty.
Looking at the list of electronic vehicles, it looks like the average miles before recharging ranges from 218 miles to 305 miles. This doesn’t cover a lot of distance in our region.
General Motors has set a target of an all-electric fleet by 2030, while Ford Motors recently unveiled its Lightning F-150 electric pickup and is prioritizing production of electric Mustangs over traditional gas Mustangs.
The issue is not the cars themselves, but rather, getting the correct amount of electricity to the charging units. This is going to hold up the sales of electronic vehicles, especially in low-population areas. But, also in areas of high-population, it is going to take a lot of new infrastructure to meet the demands of numerous charging units.
If we stay with electronic vehicles, it is going to take some time to get to a majority of them on the road, but in time, we’ll get there. What we don’t know is, at what cost?
The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 1-800-967-1647.