Record heat waves in California and severe hurricanes in Florida point to a weakness in electric vehicle adoption: How do people charge during extreme weather events when power may be lost?
It's not a theoretical question. California leads the nation in EVs. During a record Labor Day heat wave, state officials asked EV owners to avoid charging during peak electricity use times to avert power outages.
Three weeks later, Hurricane Ian landed as a Category 4 storm on Florida's southwest coast and knocked out power for weeks in the hardest hit areas.
As EV adoption grows, charging before, during and after natural disasters presents a challenge, especially given a shortage of public chargers, lack of access to home charging and the increasing regularity of such events.
"We're starting to see the impacts of climate change more and more frequently," said Katherine Stainken, vice president of policy for the Washington, D.C., trade group Electrification Coalition.
Natural disasters often create mass evacuations for which people require reliable transportation. With hurricanes and tropical storms, people have days to evacuate. But there may be no notice in some instances such as fast-moving fires or catastrophic earthquakes. If the same events knock out electricity, EV owners' efforts to leave may be hampered.
While it's common to see lines at gas stations during a hurricane evacuation, storms could create bottlenecks at public charging stations because of the time required to charge an electric vehicle.