Current EVs don’t cut it for long distances, towing

January 10, 2023

The following letter was sent to Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin.

I am writing this from Florida, having driven 1,055 miles in my Dodge pickup. I feel my experience demonstrates why electric cars are not acceptable as a transportation technology that should be forced onto Delaware citizens.

I left Millsboro with less than half a tank of gasoline; 242 miles later, I filled up in Skippers, Va. It took approximately eight minutes, and when I left the station, the truck indicated a range of 563 miles.

At 603 miles, I filled up in Ridgeland, S.C. It took less than 10 minutes. When we pulled into the station, our range was 150 miles; when we left it was about 550.

We drove the rest of the trip, 452 miles, without refueling. When we arrived at our destination in Fort Myers, we had a remaining range of 63 miles. We didn't fill up until the next afternoon.

In summation, there were two refuelings and fewer than 20 minutes total spent in refueling while traveling.

Let's consider what would have happened if we had driven a Chevy Bolt or a Ford Lightning pickup.

Bolt - Advertised range is 259 miles. However, you can't drive until it stops dead on the road. Most wouldn't want to use more than 80% of that range, which is 207 miles. Simple math tells us we would have had to recharge at least four times, plus having a 100% charge before leaving from home. The time required for each charge would have been more than the 16 minutes I spent filling the Dodge gas tank twice. 

Lightning - Advertised range for the more expensive battery package is 320 miles; 80% of that is 256 miles. To drive 1,055 miles would require at least three recharges after a full charge at home before leaving. Each recharge would take about 45 minutes at a fast charger.

Unfortunately, there is much more bad news. The temperature during most of the trip was below 40 degrees, getting all the way down to 32 degrees in Georgia. All electric car companies tell you your range will be less under 40 degrees. Ford actually tells you turn the heater off and use the heated seats and heated steering wheel (if you have them). I can assure you I would not have been happy, nor would my wife have been, at the prospect of driving 13 hours with no heat.

Then there is towing. Although I didn't on this trip, I have towed a 6,500-pound boat to Florida and back three different times. I've taken it to Cape Hatteras many times. By actual test, the Ford Lightning won't even go 100 miles when pulling a heavier trailer.

One final point. The low fuel warning light on my Dodge comes on at 55 miles of range remaining. I virtually never let it get that low, and my wife is less comfortable with stretching it. When you leave home in a Chevy Bolt, especially in cold weather, you are less than 152 miles (probably a lot less in cold weather) from 55 miles of remaining range.

When you leave home with your Ford Lightning pulling a trailer, you are only 30 to 40 miles before reaching the 55-mile "low fuel" point.

At one point, I had considered the possibility of purchasing one electric car for local trips. I now realize I have driven every vehicle I've owned to Florida. I am not willing to spend extra money to purchase a vehicle that won't do the most important job of all, which is to provide the ability to travel.

In fact, I wouldn't consider purchasing a Chevy Bolt because there would be no guarantees I could even make it to the Riverfront and back to Millsboro on a cold winter's night. In fact, just today I was told by a Bolt owner that they can only count on about 165 miles of range in winter conditions.

To be clear, I have no doubt that many people will be happy to purchase an electric vehicle. For the rest of us, the electric vehicles in existence, and those proposed for the foreseeable future, just don't cut it if you actually need to travel a distance, or tow or haul a heavy load.

Rep. Rich Collins
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