Apparently We Need To Talk About Evacuations & EVs (Part 2)


Continued from Part 1…

Would Charging Time Kill You?

Another common lie about EVs is that they’d take forever to escape the danger zone because they don’t go very far and take 8+ hours to charge. This has led to idiotic posts saying that it would take a week to get out of Florida in an EV, and you’d be caught in the hurricane in your car.

The truth is that only the cheapest and oldest EVs are like this. But, most people who bought a low-range EV without DC fast charging capability also have another car that’s either a long-range EV or a gas-powered car. So, you wouldn’t want to use a “compliance car” to escape in most cases. That’s the nugget of truth that makes these posts believable.

But, the kind of EV someone would own as their only car is far, far better. A car with 200-400 miles of range (and more range in a traffic jam) that can recharge and get more range in 30-45 minutes isn’t going to take a week to get out of Florida.

Even in my Bolt EUV (which can charge at 55 kW maximum), an evacuation as far as Chattanooga, Tennessee, to get away from an impossibly big hypercane would only take about 22 hours, total. You can split that into two days, and by the end of day one, you’re already out of Florida, even leaving from Key West (the very bottom of Florida). Better EVs that can charge faster can do this trip in less time.

Even if I had to wait an hour at every charging station, that would only add five hours to a trip out of Florida. Do you know how long you’d be waiting at gas stations? At least as long, assuming you can find a station that isn’t out of gas.

So, yes, in all but the worst EVs, you can still get out of harms way in plenty of time, and you might be better off than the people in the gas-powered cars.

“Puddles Will Short Out Your EV!”

To people who know crap from apple butter, this will sound outrageous, but it’s one I saw today coming from multiple Chinese government-sponsored fake social media accounts. They want to get ahead of us on EVs, so they’re trying to scare people away from them.

One tweet said that rain puddles would be dangerous to electric cars. Others were more conservative and claimed that only deep puddles and flooding would hurt them. In the case of flooding, that’s probably true, but only because it could wash away (like any vehicle would).

But, the truth is, EVs are generally far less susceptible to being harmed by deep water than gas and diesel vehicles. Everything is sealed up tight to keep water out of the connectors. The battery is not only water-tight, but air-tight. Power electronics are likewise sealed up to keep water from shorting anything out. You don’t have to worry about an alternator, distributor cap, or spark plugs getting water on them, because an EV doesn’t have any of those things. you’d have to completely submerge most of the car before you’d have any electrical problems.

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So, no, you’re not going to have problems with puddles and even flooding in an EV. You can get away with a lot more in an EV than you can get away with in a gas or diesel-powered car, in fact. So, this definitely isn’t a valid point to use against EVs.

Here are a couple more examples (article continues below videos):

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“Everyone Charging At The Same Time Will Kill The Grid!”

Here’s the thing, guys: People with a gas car don’t keep the tank on empty and then suddenly buy gas once the evacuation hits. Most people will start their journey with at least some gas in the tank. Many people will have more than a half tank because they keep that bottom half for emergencies just like this. And, there’s no reason EV drivers can’t do the exact same thing.

In fact, most already do. When charging at night, most people wake up with a full battery, or 80-90% if they’re trying to get more life out of the battery in the long run. This means that once the evacuation comes, everyone isn’t going to rush to plug their car in and get ready to go. They’ll have enough to get through the first 100-200 miles of their journey, if not more.

In many cases, that 100-200 miles is enough to get out of harm’s way. Mission accomplished.

But, when people need to go farther, the fast charging stations aren’t numerous. Like gas pumps, people will need to wait their turn to charge. This limits the stress on the grid from fast charging, and won’t kill the grid before the storm arrives. Plus, as I pointed out earlier, these stations will have power until the storm hits, and won’t run out of power because too many people charged.

If the evacuation traffic is heavy, people in EVs will use less power evacuating, so there will be even less demand for the stations as the cars get even greater range from going slow. If evacuation traffic is lighter, that means fewer people will need to charge at a time.

So, the grid is really, really not going to be a problem.

Why Do People Share This FUD?

This might be the most interesting part of the FUD-busting. There are several motivations:

The obvious one is hatred for EVs. This may be a form of bigotry (different is bad), or it may be politically/tribally motivated. Many conservative Republicans think they’re “owning the libs” by hating on EVs, and don’t know enough to know that they’re just making fools of themselves.

The less obvious one is international geopolitics. As I mentioned earlier, many of the accounts sharing the EV FUD have telltale signs of being Russian or Chinese paid propaganda accounts. The key to finding these is to look at a disconnect between their posts (which are used to build a fake personality or interest for the account) and the replies to other people’s posts. You’ll see accounts pretending to be American praise the Chinese government in weirdly obsessive ways, talk trash about Taiwan politics, or bash clean technologies to discourage Americans from adopting them (so their bosses can get ahead of the United States).

Finally, there are a few well-meaning but ignorant people who think they’re doing people a favor bashing EVs. They really think that EVs are dangerous to drive, and want to help people be safer.

Regardless, education is the best inoculation from the disinformation virus. Share the truth with people so they won’t fall for the FUD and disinformation when they see it.

Featured image by FEMA (Public Domain).


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