A recent column on electrification of cars misses the forest for the grid tree (“Opinion: We can help the grid handle more EVs on our roads,” Feb. 1). The author argues that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection should adopt the Advanced Clean Cars II program, suggesting Maine can adapt the electric grid. Missed, however, were several reasons this electric vehicle regulation is misguided.

While EVs may indeed become the common form of personal transportation at some point, adoption in Maine is premature. A reality check is in order.

Although it is true there are no greenhouse gases coming out of their nonexistent tailpipes, electric vehicles are not without their effect on the climate. Mandy Gunasekara, the director of the Independent Women’s Forum’s Center for Energy and Conservation and former chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently wrote: “… the average 1,000-pound EV battery requires extracting and processing 500,000 pounds of materials to procure the requisite lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other battery materials. Much of this mining is done abroad in mines that have little regard for basic environmental standards or any notion of cutting emissions. As a result, the first 60,000 to 70,000 miles of an EV are more polluting – by climate activists’ own standards – than gas-powered cars.”

EVs produce tire and brake dust. The Washington Post reported these sources of pollution exceed car exhaust systems. Further, these pollutants are unregulated.

EVs are more expensive than gas-powered cars. Many Mainers simply cannot afford an EV. A loan for the average EV after a hefty 20% down at 5% interest would cost nearly $1,000 per month for five years. That hardly seems like a reasonable cost for the average Maine citizen, whose median household income is around $60,000. Tax credits “up to $7,500” are not a guarantee. The rules can be complicated, and many EVs do not qualify for the maximum subsidy.

It is true the cheapest EV, the Chevy Bolt, sells for under $30,000. However, lower cost comes at a cost — range. The optimistic range is listed as 259 miles. Which is 74 miles less than the popular Tesla Model 3.


Then there’s the question of Maine weather. All chemical reactions are slower at cold temperatures. While EV enthusiasts don’t often talk about it, it is a reality. That inexpensive Chevy Bolt, tested at 32 degrees versus 70 degrees, had a range reduction of 32%. Even the Tesla 3 lost 17% of its range. Further, charging times increase as well. Think about that as you go to your EV on a zero-degree morning.

According to Efficiency Maine, there are a mere 472 charging stations in the state. Compare that to about 1,400 gas stations. While there are plans to increase the number of charging stations, that will take time. Home charging may help with this. However, for apartment dwellers, 27% of Maine residents, home charging is not a viable option.

For around-town commutes, ranges of 200 to 300 miles are fine. However, when thinking about a longer trip, range becomes an issue. One’s route needs to be carefully planned to ensure charging stations are available. Charging times need to be factored into the total trip time. Charging times can vary widely depending on a host of variables including power source, car’s charging capacity and battery size. Both very hot and cold temperatures increase charging time.

This not to try to dissuade someone from purchasing an EV – any Maine citizen has the freedom and right to do so. However, there are forces within the government, media and the general (uninformed) public who feel EVs are the answer to climate change. Perhaps they will be in the future. Before jumping to that conclusion, however, it might be well to become informed.

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