The impact of cold weather on EV performance is especially relevant for Maine, where the Mills Administration is considering rules that would mandate that EVs comprise a set and increasing percentage of new vehicle sales in coming years.
A state-mandated increase in EVS combined with Maine’s low winter temperatures could cause serious headaches for Mainers, especially those who rely on their vehicles to commute long distances for work.
According to a report by NPR, many Chicago area Tesla drivers had to wait in long lines to charge their vehicles, as many vehicles ranges were heavily reduced.
This is due to the lithium-ion batteries powering the vehicles becoming markedly less efficient in freezing temperatures. Also, while traditional gas-powered vehicles can warm passenger cabins using excess engine heat, EVs must draw power from the primary battery in order to keep passengers warm.
The diminished ranges prompted more frequent visits to charging stations, overwhelming the EV infrastructure in place in the city.
According to data compiled by the National Weather Service Caribou office, the mean average temperature of the Bangor area is below freezing from December through March.
Due to the poor performance of electric vehicles in freezing temperatures, EVs would have reduced ranges in Maine for approximately four months of the year.
In Maine, EV charging stations are also few and far between, especially in the more rural northern part of the state.
But Gov. Janet Mills and Democratic lawmakers are looking to change that with taxpayer-funded projects.
At the same time EV owners in the midwest were dealing with poorly performing vehicles, Gov. Mills touted Maine’s receipt of $15 million in federal grants to install over 500 new electric vehicle chargers statewide.
Last June, Mills wrote a letter addressed to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in support of the grant money that was just awarded to Maine.
In her letter, Mills wrote that the project will “assist Maine in meeting its goal to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 — and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.”
From the beginning of her tenure as Governor, Mills has considered an increase in EVs to be an important part of reaching her emissions reduction goals stated above.
According to the Governor’s Energy Office, “49 percent of Maine’s carbon emissions come from the transportation sector.”
The Governor’s Energy Office has never reconciled their view of EVs and carbon emissions with the fact that much of Maine’s electricity, the power that would supply EV charging stations, comes from the burning of natural gas in New Brunswick.
Despite drawbacks of relying on EVs in nothern New England, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection is set to vote next month on a proposal that would mandate that 82 percent of new vehicles sales be EVs by the 2032 model year.
The Maine Board of Environmental Protection is scheduled to decide the fate of this proposal on Feb. 5.
The original date for the vote was December 21, but the vote was delayed due to widespread power outages and travel disruptions due to a massive wind storm.