Relying only on battery-powered electric vehicles in a cold climate takes courage. That’s one reason why, at the end of 2021, Alaska had 1,290 registered electric vehicles (EVs), compared to 563,070 in California and 95,640 in Florida, according to the Energy Department.
The new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $7.5 billion over five years to states for electric charging stations. Alaska will get $52 million of that money, which works out to more than $40,000 per electric vehicle.
Four states with even fewer electric vehicles than Alaska will get even larger per-vehicle subsidies, according to the Department of Transportation.
North Dakota has the fewest electric vehicle registrations in the United States: 380. It will receive $26 million for charging stations, or $68,000 per registered EV.
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Wyoming, with $27 million and 510 EVs, gets $53,000 per EV.
South Dakota, with $29 million, has 680 vehicles, and will collect $43,000 per vehicle.
Those three states, like Alaska, are cold-weather states. The outlier is West Virginia, which has 1,010 EVs and will get $46 million, or $46,000 each.
California is getting a much larger allocation, $384 million over 5 years, but drivers in the Golden State use EVs, so the stations will at least get some use. On a per vehicle basis, this works out to $682 per registered EV. With California drivers piloting expensive Teslas and Hummers down sunny freeways, reasonable people might ask why electric charging stations need to be provided by the taxpayer.
President Biden believes that the provision of these public charging stations will encourage Americans to buy more electric vehicles. On June 9, 2022, the White House announced, “President Biden’s leadership is mobilizing public and private charging investment to accelerate the adoption of EVs and create good-paying jobs across manufacturing, installation, and operation.”
Some states may see more EVs due to charging stations, but EVs cannot defeat the laws of physics, and are unlikely to be popular in cold climates. Americans know that car batteries are susceptible to cold. Many of us have awakened on a cold winter morning to find our car batteries dead, and in need of a jump start or a replacement. The American Automobile Association has a fleet of small vehicles whose sole purpose is to rescue troubled motorists in chilly situations.
A study by Autocar shows that electric vehicles lose, on average, a third of their range in the winter, which reduces the typical 240-mile range to 160 miles. If a heat pump is added to the car, the loss is less, but still the 240-mile range would shrink to 180.
Car results varied. The Fiat 500 42kWh Icon lost 40 percent of its range in the winter. The Ford Mustang Mach-E Extended Range RWD lost 35 percent, and the Porsche Taycan 4S Performance Battery Plus, with heat pump, lost 22 percent. (The Taycan retails for between $83,000 and $166,000.
Gasoline-powered engines also work less efficiently in extreme cold, but the damage is not as great as with EVs. Winter temperatures in Anchorage, Alaska, are so low that the city encourages residents to use engine block heaters to make it easier to start their internal combustion engine cars on cold mornings. The city gives out free timers so car engines can be warmed for two hours prior to a cold morning start.
Unless and until battery technology changes, electric vehicles are not year-round vehicles in cold climate states.
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In such states, only high-income individuals can afford the luxury of owning a vehicle that cannot be used efficiently for much of the year.
Even elsewhere, most electric vehicles are expensive, and largely owned by upper-income people. There is no need for average earners in Alaska or elsewhere to subsidize higher- earners’ electric charging stations with their tax dollars.
It is wasteful for Congress to build charging stations in states where electric vehicles cannot be used in many months of the year. Indeed, it’s foolish to spend money on “infrastructure” that benefits only wealthy people who do not need government support.
If tens of millions of dollars magically appeared with no strings attached in Alaska or other cold-weather states, the money would almost certainly be put to a better use than electric charging stations. Individual states might build roads suitable for all vehicles, or reduce taxes for residents and businesses.
Just as the federal government did not provide gas stations and Tesla charging stations, it should not be funding charging stations for EVs. It’s obvious that one of the worst possible uses of the funds is in Alaska and other cold-weather states where EVs are generally impractical and unusable.
This piece originally appeared in Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianafurchtgott-roth/2022/10/25/tax-dollars-are-wasted-on-alaskas-ev-charging-stations/?sh=2f1e461833a1